Police charge 3 after investigation connected to fatal Leitches Creek collision
August 2, 2018
Cape Breton Regional Police have concluded the investigation of a June 10th fatal motor vehicle-pedestrian collision on Highway 223, as well as the circumstances of a graduation party in the nearby area that same night. Major Crime investigators, with assistance from Traffic Safety and Forensic Identification Units have brought together evidence from the scene, accident reconstruction and vehicle analysis, interviews and statements from more than 30 individuals, the Medical Examiner’s report and consultation with the Crown Prosecutor.
As a result, the 21-year-old driver of the vehicle – who was proven not impaired – is charged with Attempting to Obstruct Justice in connection with circumstances following the collision; Hayden Kenneth Laffin, of Bras d’Or, appeared in Sydney Provincial Court today. Additionally, the two homeowners that hosted the graduation party are charged with Allowing Drunkenness on their property. Under the Liquor Control Act, this offence carries a maximum fine of $2,000.00 and/or six months in jail. Kenneth Wilkie (52) and Donna Wilkie (49), of Leitches Creek, will appear in Sydney Provincial Court on September 18th to face these charges.
Chief Peter McIsaac says: “This was a very tragic accident that led to a very complex and difficult set of circumstances to investigate – multiple involved persons and witnesses, initial confusion at the scene over what actually caused the victim’s injuries, and the additional questions about the circumstances leading up to the collision, including a nearby graduation party. The complexity of this investigation was further complicated by a wealth of misinformation – based on assumptions, opinions and rumors – circulating in the community and on social media, and then reported in the media, generating significant criticism towards the police. It is extremely frustrating and disappointing to not be able to comment directly on this kind of misinformation – for example: the discrepancies between what was being said in community conversations and to the media in contradiction to what was being provided to investigators in official witness statements; the fact that investigators maintained daily contact with the victim’s family; and, the evidence available to support that the driver of the vehicle was not impaired, and that officers had zero probable grounds to issue a breathalyzer demand, including multiple observations, interactions and conversations with the driver – during the hours before the collision, at the scene, and in the hours after the incident – by officers trained in standard field sobriety testing and as breathalyzer technicians, as well as witness statements and audio evidence in the minutes immediately following the collision.
This causes challenges for our investigation, but collecting and verifying information is part of our jobs and we manage that. What’s more disappointing is how the misinformed sensationalism was hurtful and harmful to the people involved in and affected by this incident, as well as their families, to the point that their personal safety and well-being were put at risk. During an investigation, we simply cannot say anything that might jeopardize or influence that ongoing investigation; and now, with two Court processes in the future, I cannot speak specifically to evidence that will be presented there, but I trust that it will fill in the blanks for anyone still left questioning. These charges are the result of our obligation to the facts and evidence presented to us, and our accountability to the law. I hope they also serve as a strong reminder of the risks and liabilities involved in hosting parties where alcohol is knowingly served and that hosts have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their guests and others who could be impacted by them leaving the party – especially when they are supervising those under the legal age for consuming alcohol.
With complete confidence in the actions of our officers and our unfolding investigation, I actually requested that SiRT conduct a parallel investigation to provide independent oversight for transparency and public interest. However, with no officer wrongdoing in question concerning the cause of the collision and subsequent injury and death of the victim, this investigation did not meet the requirements of its mandate. I’m aware that there have been additional demands for SiRT and the Department of Justice to become involved in an independent investigation, and should that happen we will cooperate fully, completely and with continued confidence in our actions that night and throughout the course of the investigation. Similarly, if anyone has concerns about police conduct, there is a process in place to file a complaint to the Office of the Nova Scotia Police Complaints Commissioner for review.”