Judge to rule on charter challenge

B.C. Supreme Court judge to determine whether Reinbrecht’s right to a fair trial under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was compromised.

A police officer examines the wreckage after a speedboat collided with a houseboat in 2010

A police officer examines the wreckage after a speedboat collided with a houseboat in 2010

At least some of the delay in the trial of a man convicted of criminal negligence in connection to the death of a houseboat captain on Shuswap Lake nearly six years ago rests with the defence or is unavoidable, a Crown prosecutor argued this week.

Lawyers completed a hearing Friday and will now wait for a B.C. Supreme Court judge to determine whether Leon Reinbrecht’s right to a fair trial under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was compromised by a 46-month delay from the time he was charged to the date he was convicted.

In October of last year, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan found Reinbrecht guilty of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection to the July 3, 2010, crash in Magna Bay that left houseboat operator Ken Brown dead at the scene and at least five people injured.

Donegan ruled Reinbrecht was operating his speedboat recklessly at night after post-Canada Day fireworks when he crashed into the slow-moving houseboat. Reinbrecht’s speedboat ended up completely inside the houseboat.

It took 17 months from the time of the crash for the Crown to bring charges against Reinbrecht, but that delay does not form part of the defence’s argument.

Defence lawyer Joe Doyle said the 46 months of delay from the time of the charge to conviction is not the fault of his client, a delay he pinned on the courts and Crown.

The case has seen one Crown lawyer retire and hand over responsibility to another. Reinbrecht is on his third lawyer. Delays were also caused by Reinbrecht’s fight to obtain legal-aid funding.

“No one over the four years has suggested it wasn’t necessary for Mr. Reinbrecht to have counsel,” prosecutor Neil Flanagan said. “Arrangements for that took a significant amount of time.”

Flanagan called much of the delay “neutral” — the fault of neither defence nor Crown.

Donegan reserved her decision for a later date.