Is driver in fatal hit and run not criminally responsible due to mental disorder?

Accused Raymond Swann will find out on Friday, when Justice Dev Dley is expected to deliver a ruling

A Shuswap man who has admitted he was behind the wheel of a truck that struck and killed a motorcyclist outside Chase nearly three years ago will learn on Friday whether he will be held criminally accountable for his role in the incident.

Raymond Edward Swann was charged with murder following the death of Brian Watson, but the charge was later reduced to criminal negligence causing death.

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Watson, 60, was killed on April 3, 2016, while riding his motorcycle on Squilax-Anglemont Road. Swann’s truck struck Watson from behind.

Watson, who lived in Chase, was employed by the Kamloops-Thompson school district as a facilities painter.

Swann, 59, admitted last week in B.C. Supreme Court he was driving the truck when it struck Watson. His lawyer, however, presented a defence of not criminally responsible by way of a mental disorder, arguing Swann had a disease of the mind at the time Watson was killed and should undergo treatment rather than spend time in prison.

Court heard last week that Swann told investigators he had no recollection of the crash that killed Watson. He said he “woke up” and was at the house of a friend.

Swann underwent psychiatric testing in 2017. A court-ordered report prepared by a doctor describes his state of mind at the time of the incident as one of “acute confusion.”

“Mr. Swann was in an altered state of mind, whether you call it psychosis, schizophrenia or an acute confusional state,” defence lawyer Ken Walker said, noting Swann believed he was being chased by armed men at the time of the fatal collision.

“If he’s in that state, he was either justified in his mind or he didn’t know what was happening when he hit the motorcycle,” Walker said.

Crown prosecutor Neil Flanagan said a number of “external factors” should rule out a not-criminally-responsible finding for Swann.

Flanagan said Swann, at the time of Watson’s death, was under the influence of sedatives, including Xanax, had been using marijuana, was inconsistent in his use of prescribed medications and had been experiencing “significant sleep disturbances.”

“These are the external factors that, in this case, resulted in a state of delirium or acute confusion, not a disease of the mind,” Flanagan said.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley is expected to deliver a ruling on Friday.

Swann remains free on bail.

© Kamloops This Week


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