Final arguments in downtown Chilliwack hit-and-run trial

Crown defends circumstantial case, calls accused’s suggestion of reasonable doubt ‘beyond speculation’

A Chilliwack man who sped the wrong way on Wellington Avenue before crashing at Five Corners is asking a judge to acquit him of hit-and-run because the hair embedded in his windshield was a different colour than that of the victim who was laying on the road a kilometre away.

That’s just one piece of circumstantial evidence Cody Anthony James Bianco’s lawyer says raises reasonable doubt that the 27-year-old is guilty of the charge of failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm.

Closing arguments in the trial wrapped up in court Aug. 31 in the case in which Bianco faces four other charges: impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing an accident resulting in bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

The incident leading to the charges dates back to the early hours of Sept. 27, 2015. It was after closing time outside the Triple Play Pub when three members of Rockabilly Jay & The Cadillac Bones packed up their gear out front.

Band members heard a loud bang and saw a vehicle speeding along Wellington towards them, going the wrong way on the one-way street.

Rockabilly Jay himself, Jason Joyce, actually pushed another band member out of the path of the vehicle, which he estimated was travelling over 80 kilometres an hour, and watched as the car crashed into the pedestrian island on the other side of Five Corners.

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

Bianco got out of the car, began urinating and was arrested by Sargent, so beginning a long complicated night of piecing together what had transpired.

At the same time as this crash, about a kilometre to the west on Wellington, Kelsey Archer was on the ground being attended to by her husband James Archer. Kelsey had just been struck by a vehicle from behind and left with soft tissue damage to her leg and buttocks and a serious head injury. She also now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the court heard.

Prior to the hit-and-run, James and Kelsey were at a party on the Skwah Reserve at the end of Wellington. Bianco was there, too. 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. Two silver sideview mirrors were left at the scene, and James witnessed a silver Honda Civic speed away.

The car driven by Bianco that crashed at Five Corners was a silver Honda Civic, missing its sideview mirrors, with a smashed windshield and hair embedded in it.

Bianco’s lawyer Kyla Lee argued in her closing submissions that no one witnessed Bianco driving the car that struck Kelsey. She suggested there were numerous side streets between the two accident scenes, and speculated that even if it was the same car, someone different could have been driving the car and gotten out before the crash at Five Corners

“We start getting into some wildly speculative ideas,” Crown counsel Henry Waldock told the court in responding to Lee’s written submissions in court on Aug. 30.

And while Lee argued that both she and the Crown were making speculations — with the Crown having the burden to prove matters — Waldock responded that his circumstantial case is based not on speculation, but logical inference.

“The difference between speculation and inference is evidence,” Waldock said.

Earlier this year, Lee argued a number of Bianco’s Charter rights were violated that night including 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.

On March 23, Judge Robert Gunnell ruled the breath sample taken was to be excluded from evidence, but all other Charter breaches were rejected or considered not serious enough to warrant exclusion.

Waldock’s circumstantial case based on various pieces of evidence and some logical inferences is more than enough to convict on some or all of the charges, he argued.

Lee suggested it wasn’t enough.

“There are simply too many unknowns in the case to get you to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” she argued.

Gunnell is scheduled to render his decision Dec. 21.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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