Donald Brodie has been found guilty of a 2013 police chase that left a Capital News paper carrier gravely injured.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Martha Devlin found Brodie guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and flight from police causing bodily harm. On the two counts of willfully obstructing police, she found Brodie to be not guilty.
A pre sentence report has been ordered and it should be rendered in the next six weeks.
The verdict puts an end to a long and confusing legal process that started the night of the crash.
Originally Mounties charged Nathan Fahl for crimes attached to the events on Dec. 6, 2013, but within a couple of months Brodie started telling almost anyone who would listen that he was the driver. He wrote five confession letters to the RCMP and seven to local media outlets.
During the trial he said all those confessions were just part of a ruse aimed at helping his friend get off the hook. Even the confession letters written long after charges against Fahl were to be recanted were for that aim, he said.
Brodie’s testimony, said Devlin, was a “convoluted, entangled web of lies and deception within which there are layers of truth.”
Devlin noted that Brodie didn’t respect the oath he took in court to tell the truth, and pointed out his reason to continually confess long after charges were dropped against Fahl was “absurd.”
Although she dismissed much of what Brodie did have to say, Devlin said she did believe he was remorseful for what he did to Steve Kania, the paper carrier who sustained broken bones and a brain injury in the incident.
“I do believe (Brodie) is capable of genuine compassion and concern for Mr. Kania and his family,” said Devlin.
“I believe what Brodie wrote to RCMP and media and what he said to Sgt. (Michael) Cooke was true … he was the driver of the (car) and he wanted Kania to know the truth. I have no doubt he also didn’t want his friend to be blamed for what he did.”
She also said that Brodie confessed to drinking six beers and doing some heroin the night of the incident. Fahl was said to be passed out in the passenger seat on GHB when he made the decision to drive through the police check stop at Springfield and Leckie roads.
Upon driving down the road, RCMP pursued Brodie who took them on a chase through Rutland in both industrial and residential areas.
Police didn’t catch up until Brodie stopped, having hit Kania who was delivering papers late at night and a fire hydrant.
Police, said Devlin, arrived to the scene to find Kania on the road, Brodie and Fahl at the scene and water spraying all around.
In closing arguments Crown counsel Dave Grabavac said those confessions to media and police both before and after Fahl was charged should be weighed seriously.
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One confession was to Sgt. Michael Cooke on Monday, dated March 8. 2014.
“I already told you I was the driver. Nate was probably trying to tell a joke, talking on the phone and trying to protect me because he knows I’ll get lots of federal time, so he’s covering for me,” Grabavac read from a letter Brodie had written, earlier in the week.
By June the police had investigated his claim and charges against Fahl were dropped and shifted to Brodie.
Grabavac argued if clearing his friend was the aim, Brodie had done his job by the time Fahl had charges against him dropped and there was no reason to keep confessing. But he did.
“In my respectful submission there was no reason to write those letters … it makes no sense while he was charged to keep writing letters saying he did it,” said Grabavac.
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In one letter from the days after he was charged, Brodie wrote to a police officer who had been investigated by a police oversight group for his conduct the night of the incident. Brodie told the officer he should man up, admit he’d been in the wrong, just as he had done.
He also wrote letters to media that read like an apology to Kania and his family, something Grabavac said would be cruel if he in fact had nothing to do with the incident. He also apologized to the Fahl family.
Defence lawyer John Gustafson argued that there is no clear evidence that it was Brodie behind the wheel of the car. No fingerprints or DNA link him to the driver’s seat. Nor, he said, was there first hand accounts of who was driving brought forward by Crown, which there could have been given there were two other people in the car.
The judge is expected to give her decision Friday.