Verdict in careless driving trial in December

The United Counties building and Provincial Offences Act courthouse at 22 Pitt Street in Cornwall. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A verdict in a week-long careless driving trial in Cornwall is not expected until December.

Catriona Kirkwood, 42, of Chesterville pled not guilty to a single count of careless driving in relation to the February 2015 death of Morrisburg lawyer Peter Remillard.

Kirkwood’s Dodge Journey collided head-on with Remillard’s BMW sport utility vehicle on a windy stretch of County Road 7, south of Chesterville.

On Friday (Oct. 6), Judge Karen Baum granted the Crown’s request to allow its traffic expert to retake the stand.

O.P.P. Sgt. Jason Foster clarified some questions surrounding hardware and software used to collect and interpret data from the crash recorders of both vehicles.

The trial heard Kirkwood’s Dodge Journey crossed the center line and collided with Remillard’s BMW sport utility vehicle. Remillard later died of his injuries at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

With a careless driving charge, the Crown has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Kirkwood acted without due care for others on the highway and that the collision was caused by more than a momentary lapse in judgment.

The week-long trial essentially came down to the interpretation of data from two experts. The Crown suggests the wheel movements and deceleration of Kirkwood’s Dodge are the cause of the impact; the defence says they are Kirkwood attempting to avoid the collision.

Kirkwood did not take the stand in her defence during the trial.

Because of a delay in court proceedings and recalling the O.P.P. traffic reconstruction expert, the court simply ran out of time for oral final submissions.

The Provincial Offences Act court tried unsuccessfully to schedule at least a half-dozen dates between now and late November where Crown attorney Raphael Feldstein and defence lawyer Neil Weinstein would be available to make oral closing arguments.

Instead, Judge Karen Baum has set up a timeline for written submissions with a backup plan should both lawyers be available to make their closing case in a courtroom.

The case will go through a status check on Oct. 17. A “target date” of Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 is set for Baum to give her verdict.

A charge of careless driving carries a minimum fine of $400 to a maximum of $2,000, plus a driver’s licence suspension up to two years and jail for up to six months.

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