Fatal lake crash trial finally begins — then gets adjourned

Concerns from the defence lawyer representing the man accused in a fatal 2010 Shuswap Lake crash have delayed the trial.

  • Feb. 12, 2015 7:00 a.m.
Leon Reinbrecht outside the Kamloops Courthouse.

Leon Reinbrecht outside the Kamloops Courthouse.

By Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week

Concerns from the defence lawyer representing the man accused in a fatal 2010 Shuswap Lake boat crash have delayed the trial by nearly two weeks.

Leon Reinbrecht’s trial on one count each of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm began in Kamloops on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

The charges stem from a fatal crash on July 3, 2010, that left Ken Brown, who was at the helm of a houseboat, dead.

The Crown alleges Reinbrecht was negligent and speeding around the lake in the dark of night prior to the crash. Court has heard Reinbrecht’s speedboat became fully lodged inside the main galley of Brown’s houseboat.

Yesterday morning, defence lawyer Joe Doyle said he needs time to review new evidence that has been collected by police as recently as last week.

“Clearly, things have come up in Crown interviews that haven’t otherwise been disclosed,” Doyle said. “It’s not in accordance with justice and it’s not in accordance with a fair trial. I know Mr. Reinbrecht is not entitled to a perfect trial, but he is entitled to a fair trial.”

Doyle’s issues arose on the first day of trial, when a witness mentioned two boats taking evasive action as Reinbrecht’s vessel allegedly zig-zagged across Shuswap Lake.

Doyle said he had never heard anything about that particular piece of evidence. Prosecutors are obligated to provide full disclosure to defence counsel.

Crown prosecutor Neil Flanagan said he’s been doing his best to keep Doyle in the loop as he conducts pre-trial interviews with witnesses, noting he did not consider the mention of the two boats to be a new piece of evidence.

Doyle suggested the trial be adjourned to allow Flanagan to conduct all of his interviews before the trial proceeds.

Flanagan said the Crown is not required to have all of its pre-trial interviews done before the trial begins.

“If that is the case, it comes as news to me,” he said. “Before there are any further adjournments, the request for adjournments must be based on more than concerns that are just theoretical.”

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan agreed to put the trial off until Feb. 23, with the possibility of adding more time in March.

Court has already heard from a witness who said she saw Reinbrecht’s boat speeding on Shuswap Lake prior to the crash.

“I heard the sound of a boat going very fast,” said Christie Nelson, who was sitting at a fire near the lakeshore at the time of the incident.

“I heard a loud sound, like you can tell the speed of a boat by the sound.”

“Then I saw a speedboat coming quickly toward Magna Bay.

“In my mind, it was something that was unusual. It was a really dark night and it was unusual to have a boat travelling so fast for the conditions.

“I exclaimed to my friends at the fire, ‘Why is this person going so fast? They’re going too fast. They can’t see anything.’”

“What happened next?” Flanagan asked.

“We heard a really, really loud crash,” Nelson replied.

“It went from a low rumbling noise to a high-pitched whirring noise with the engine out of the water.”

Nelson said her brother and husband boarded the family boat and went to the crash site with flashlights and life jackets.

Reinbrecht’s trial is slated to resume on Feb. 23.