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Robert Reid argued the conviction wasn't valid; appellate judges disagreed
A man who was found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident after he struck an acquaintance with his vehicle appealed his conviction, saying the charge didn’t apply to him since the “accident” wasn’t actually an accident at all.
Robert Reid, 43, had been convicted of the offence along with two others — dangerous driving causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon — after he struck an acquaintance, Sean Mulcahy, with his vehicle in November 2018.
Reid had been drinking with Mulcahy and a woman at the woman’s home over the course of two days. At some point on the second day things became heated and Reid was asked to leave. He returned to the residence in his vehicle later that night, driving back and forth in front of the house, sounding his horn, blaring music and shining his headlights into the living room window.
“Come on, let’s go,” Reid yelled at one point.
Mulcahy came outside with a shovel and walked toward Reid’s vehicle. Reid accelerated toward Mulcahy and struck him, then backed up and hit him again. He then drove away.
Mulcahy suffered a broken foot, torn knee ligaments, and multiple cuts and abrasions.
"Whether an unintended collision or an intended collision, the objective of guarding against the public harm of leaving the scene remains the same." — Court of Appeal judges
Reid pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial was focused on whether or not his identity as the driver of the vehicle had been proven.
“If Mr. Reid is the individual driving the vehicle when it hits Mr. Mulcahy, he is guilty of all three offences,” his own lawyer said during his closing submissions.
Reid, represented by a different lawyer, appealed his conviction on the charge of failing to stop for an accident, arguing the law didn’t apply because he had struck the man on purpose.
The term “accident” is used in law to describe both intentional and unintentional acts, a panel of three Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal judges wrote in their decision, issued last week, providing examples of commentary to that effect. The wording of the particular offence in the Criminal Code suggests “accident” could be taken as “incident,” they wrote.
“Secondly,” the judges noted, “(the offence) is concerned with the harm of drivers leaving the scene without leaving a name or without rendering assistance to an injured person. Whether an unintended collision or an intended collision, the objective of guarding against the public harm of leaving the scene remains the same. That public harm occurred here, with Mr. Reid driving away without rendering assistance to the injured Mr. Mulcahy.”
Within the context of the offence, “accident” means any incident in which a person operates a vehicle so as to cause injury to another vehicle or person, the judges wrote.
Reid’s appeal was dismissed.