Alexandre Collin v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Que.) (Criminal) (As of Right)
Criminal law - Appeals - Criminal law – Appeals – Right of Attorney General to appeal under s. 676(1)(a) of Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C 46 – Dangerous driving causing bodily harm – Causation – Whether Court of Appeal erred in finding that Crown’s appeal from acquittal raised question of law alone within meaning of s. 676(1)(a) of Criminal Code – Whether Court of Appeal erred in substituting its own findings of fact for those of trial judge.
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The appellant was acquitted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm but convicted of the included offence of dangerous driving. The trial judge found that the appellant had driven dangerously but accepted the appellant’s explanation of the cause of the accident, namely that the vehicle he was driving had not responded when he braked because the accelerator was stuck. The judge found that the dangerous driving was therefore not what had caused bodily harm to the complainant. On appeal, the Crown argued that the trial judge had erred in law by applying the wrong legal test in analyzing causation and that the error had had a material bearing on the acquittal. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and entered a conviction on the count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. It began by finding that the question raised by the Crown was a question of law. It then explained that what the trial judge should have considered was whether the appellant’s dangerous driving had been a significant contributing cause of the complainant’s bodily harm, not whether it had been the cause. In its view, something that happened and that complicated driving that was already criminal clearly could not, in the circumstances, negate the significant (or beyond de minimis) contribution made by that driving to the complainant’s bodily harm.
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