This truck spilt 33,000 litres of fuel into Lemon Creek in 2013. The ensuing environmental disaster resulted in the driver’s conviction, but the company that hired him has so far avoided trial. File photo

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

A company involved in the Lemon Creek fuel spill has been granted leave to appeal charges against it.

Calgary-based Executive Flight Centre, whose driver spilled 33,000 litres of fuel into Lemon Creek and the Slocan River in 2013, was granted leave in a BC Court of Appeal decision on April 24.

It’s the latest twist in a case that has become increasingly convoluted.

Executive Flight Centre initially faced charges in 2014 under the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Management Act following the private prosecution efforts of local resident Marilyn Burgoon that were taken on by the federal government.

But three years later those charges were stayed before a trial could begin.

Judge Lisa Mrozinski ruled the Crown exceeded the maximum 18-month wait for trial after charges were laid, a precedent set in the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada case R vs. Jordan, which determined further delay denies an accused person the right to a fair trial under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The federal government appealed Mrozinski’s decision and won last December in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, setting the stage for a new trial.

That trial will once again be delayed.

In his decision last month, Justice Richard Goepel wrote Executive Flight Centre’s appeal based on the question of law related to the Jordan decision was valid.

“The questions of law have significance to the administration of justice beyond this case,” wrote Goepel.

The fuel spill has already resulted in one conviction. Danny LaSante, the driver of the truck, was found guilty in March 2018 fined $20,000 in February. The provincial government was acquitted of the same charges.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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