A judge has found Carol Berner of Delta, B.C., guilty of four charges, including impaired driving causing death, for running down a four-year-old girl and her aunt who were feeding a horse at the side of a rural road.
Berner, 58, lost control of her car while driving on a rural road in Ladner, south of Vancouver, hitting Alexa Middelaer and her aunt, Daphne Johnson. The pair were standing outside a farm fence on the roadside, feeding one of Middelaer's favourite horses.
Middelaer died after being taken to hospital, while Johnson spent a month in hospital with serious injuries.
The judge said Berner exercised poor judgment that day in May 2008 by driving on a road close to her home at a speed of about 91 kilometres an hour in a 50 km/h zone and ignoring speed bumps.
Family relieved by ruling
There were tears and hugs in the courtroom when the ruling was announced. Middlelaer's parents and many others in the courtroom wore purple in memory of the little girl.
After the ruling, Berner was released to await sentencing in November and left the courthouse without making any statements.
But Middelaer's parents spoke after the ruling, expressing their surprise and relief at Berner's conviction on all four counts.
"Clearly, what happened, her judgment was grossly off, and it resulted in the loss of our daughter," Laura Middelaer said. "So, today, I feel as a mother that my little girl was honoured today."
Confessed to undercover officer
Berner had pleaded not guilty to charges of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
B.C. provincial court Judge Peder Gulbransen heard the case without a jury.
The four-week trial in Surrey heard evidence from several Crown witnesses, including a female police officer who was involved in a three-month undercover operation designed to befriend Berner.
Berner eventually admitted to the undercover officer that she drank three glasses of wine before the incident as police secretly captured the confession on videotape.
A collision expert testified during the trial that Berner didn't hit the brakes until a second before striking Middelaer and Johnson.
The defence argued much of its case in cross-examination and called no witnesses.