Chilliwack Law Courts.

Chilliwack Law Courts.

Crown faces Charter challenges in downtown Chilliwack hit-and-run trial

Defence argues Cody Bianco's rights were violated in numerous ways after hit-and-run that seriously injured a young woman, ended in a crash

  • Feb. 2, 2017 8:00 a.m.

As three members of local band Rockabilly Jay & The Cadillac Bones packed up their gear in the early hours outside Triple Play Pub after a Saturday night gig in 2015, they saw something unusual.

A car was speeding along Wellington towards them, going the wrong way on the one-way street.

One of the members of the band pushed another out of the way and they watched as the car crashed into the pedestrian island on the other side of Five Corners.

Also witnessing the crash was an RCMP officer who happened to be stopped on Young Road at a red light.

This was the beginning of a long, complicated night for RCMP Sgt. Mike Sargent.

The man driving the car witnessed by Rockabilly Jay and Sgt. Sargent was Cody Anthony James Bianco who is accused of being drunk at the time and involved in a hit-and-run moments before.

James and Kelsey Archer had been at a party on the Skwah Reserve at the end of Wellington on Sept. 26, 2015. Crown counsel Henry Waldock said in provincial court last week that Kelsey complained Bianco made unwanted advances towards her. James and Bianco got into a fight, and later the Archers quarrelled amongst themselves about whether or not to leave the party.

They did leave, Waldock said, and as they walked along Wellington towards downtown a vehicle came from behind, brushed by James and struck Kelsey in the back.

She was left with soft tissue damage to her leg and buttocks, a serious head injury and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The sound of an approaching vehicle causes her anxiety,” Waldock said.

The driver did not stop.

Waldock added that Kelsey had missing locks of hair, and hair was found embedded in a spiderweb-shaped crack in the windshield of the car Bianco was seen driving. Mirrors from both sides of his Honda were at the scene of the hit-and-run.

Bianco is facing a trial on five counts: impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing an accident resulting in bodily harm, failure to stop at accident scene involving bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

The case was in provincial court in Chilliwack last week for a voir dire hearing, in which Bianco’s lawyer is arguing the police mishandled the investigation and his constitutional rights were violated in a number of ways.

Broad strokes were outlined in court on Jan. 23 before written arguments were to be provided to Judge Robert Gunnell who will come back to render a decision on March 23.

Among the Charter breaches alleged are that he was arbitrarily detained, he was not afforded a right to counsel and that the officer did not have enough cause to order Bianco to provide a breath sample. The breath sample itself is at issue, as there was only one officer on duty that night who could do the breath test, and even then he had to drive to Agassiz to get the kit.

Bianco’s lawyer Kyla Lee told the court that Sargent did not have the requisite ground to make an arrest that night.

At the time of the incident at Five Corners, it was a simple impaired case as police had not yet learned of the hit-and-run down Wellington. When Sargent asked Bianco if he wanted to call a lawyer, the young man replied, “No, my mom.” But there is no constitutional right to call a parent, so defence will likely argue what this meant was that he wanted to call his mother to help him contact a lawyer.

Another issue likely to be argued is that over the course of the evening jeopardy changed. At first Bianco was charged with impaired driving, this was elevated to the hit-and-run, and yet again when it was learned the woman was injured and in hospital.

paul.henderson@theprogress.com

@PeeJayAitch

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