The houseboat that was operated by Ken Brown, who was killed in the July 3, 2010 crash, is pictured with the speedboat fully embedded inside. (Observer file photo)

Appeal launched by driver of boat in fatal Magna Bay houseboat crash denied

Leon Reinbrecht given three-year sentence after driving speedboat into a houseboat, killing a man

Tim Petruk

Kamloops This Week

The man behind the wheel of a speedboat on Shuswap Lake nearly nine years ago when it plowed into a houseboat, killing its driver, has had his conviction upheld by B.C.’s highest court.

Leon Reinbrecht was sentenced to three years in a federal penitentiary following his conviction in 2015 on charges stemming from the July 3, 2010 incident that killed houseboat operator Ken Brown and left several other people injured.

Reinbrecht appealed his conviction on the grounds the provincial government waited too long to take his matter to trial. The 56-year-old has been free on bail in Alberta pending his appeal.

The legal proceedings against Reinbrecht have been protracted. He was not charged in connection with the fatal boat collision until 17 months after it had taken place. Another 46 months passed before he was convicted.

Related: 2015 – Reinbrecht found guilty

Defence lawyer Greg DelBigio argued in the B.C. Court of Appeal in Kamloops in October that Reinbrecht had a constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time under legal framework laid out by the Supreme Court of Canada — a case called R. v. Jordan — the year after Reinbrecht was convicted.

The framework sets strict timelines for accused people to proceed through the legal process — beginning when a charge is laid. In Reinbrecht’s case, 30 months would have been the limit laid out under the new regime from the Supreme Court of Canada.

A B.C. Court of Appeal decision dismissing Reinbrecht’s appeal is dated Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The court found, in part, the complexity of the case against Reinbrecht made it a lengthy one — and that delays did not violate his constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable timeframe.

“The judge’s finding with respect to the complexity of this case, having presided over 32 days of trial, is entitled to deference and… justifies marginal delay that may exceed the presumptive ceiling,” the decision reads.

Related: 2016 – Three year jail sentence in case of fatal Shuswap boat crash

October’s appeal hearing was not the first time lawyers had argued on Reinbrecht’s behalf about delay.

Following his trial, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan presided over a hearing to determine whether Reinbrecht’s conviction should be thrown out because it took too long. Donegan ruled that it should not and she apportioned blame for each delay.

Donegan ruled Reinbrecht had suffered some prejudice because of delay, but not enough to overturn his conviction.

In October, DelBigio asked the three-judge B.C. Court of Appeal panel to look at Reinbrecht’s case through the delay lens established by Canada’s highest court in 2016 — after Donegan’s decision.

“The sole issue in this appeal is whether or not, under the new Jordan framework, a trial has taken too long,” he said.

DelBigio focused on a specific period of delay for Reinbrecht between October 2012 and July 2013 — time during which Reinbrecht was applying through court to receive government funding to pay his legal expenses. In Donegan’s decision, she declared that stretch to be neutral as far as blame goes.

Reinbrecht’s income precluded him from receiving legal aid, but he could not afford to pay a lawyer to defend him against such complex allegations, court heard in October. He had to proceed through a complicated process to apply for a state-funded defence.

Related: Appeal wraps up for man convicted in fatal speedboat collision on Shuswap Lake

According to DelBigio, the Crown should be held responsible for those nine months of delay because Crown — prosecutors and the provincial government — could have signed off on funding from the outset. They did not and DelBigio described the process of financial disclosure required of Reinbrecht as a “daunting” one.

“It was a case which is far too complex for Mr. Reinbrecht to be self-represented and have there been a fair trial,” DelBigio said. “So there’s no doubt that a fair trial required Mr. Reinbrecht to be represented by counsel… It’s absolutely in the control of the Crown. The Crown can consent to an application.”

The appeal court judges found there was nothing unreasonable about any of the delays in Reinbrecht’s case.

“The net total delay was, in my view, reasonable,” the decision reads. “In any event, under the transitional exceptional circumstance, any marginal delay that may have exceeded the presumptive ceiling was justified.”

At trial in 2015, witnesses described Reinbrecht as piloting his speedboat recklessly in the minutes leading up to the crash that killed Brown. The collision saw Reinbrecht’s speedboat embedded in Brown’s houseboat.

The crash took place in darkness near Magna Bay following a post-Canada Day fireworks display. Reinbrecht’s defence lawyer argued during trial that Brown’s houseboat was not sufficiently lit.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Leon Reinbrecht

Leon Reinbrecht’s speedboat sits embedded in the houseboat it struck on the night of Saturday, July 3, 2010, at Magna Bay on Shuswap Lake. The houseboat’s operator, Ken Brown, died in the collision. (File photo)

Just Posted

RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 1 east of Salmon Arm early Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man killed in collision on Highway 1

RCMP say slippery road conditions contributing factor behind collision

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a seven-vehicle chain reaction collision early Monday morning, Oct. 26. (File photo)
One person injured in seven-vehicle chain-reaction collision in Salmon Arm

Snow packed to ice, speed contributing factors behind collisions

Armstrong’s Christyna Whieldon is $1M richer after scoring a winning Lotto 6/49 ticket from the general store. (BCLC contributed)
Armstrong mom $1M richer after candy run

Christyna Whieldon bought a winning ticket from Armstrong’s general store

Streets are slick in Salmon Arm this morning, Oct. 26, with drivers struggling to stay on the roads in multiple locations. (File photo)
Vehicles slip and slide in Salmon Arm Monday morning as snow falls

Snow forecast to stop by noon, with temperatures rising Tuesday, Oct. 27

Sicamous resident Paige Mounce says she has found numerous sick mice and rodents on her property. She wants the district to get started with a non-chemical treatment program so that other animals that might eat the poisoned rodents do not get sick. (Paige Mounce-Facebook)
Numerous rat complaints in Sicamous prompt look at pest control options

Resident warns chemical treatment dangerous to pets, livestock, wildlife

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
Second case of COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health has confirmed the new case is unrelated to the one announced Sunday

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Popular Kelowna outdoor ice rink will open amid COVID-19 pandemic

City council approved COVID-related changes to the Stuart Park ice rink’s operations

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Most Read