British Columbia

B.C. driver who killed 4-year-old appeals conviction

The drunk driver who ran over and killed a four-year-old girl three years ago is asking B.C.'s highest court to give her another chance.
Alexa Middelaer, 4, died when hit by a car in Delta, B.C., in 2008. (CBC)

The drunk driver who ran over and killed a young girl three years ago is asking B.C.'s highest court to give her another chance.

Carol Berner was sentenced to two and a-half years in prison in November 2010 after she was convicted of the impaired driving death of Alexa Middelaer, aged 4, in May 2008 and the serious injury of the little girl’s aunt. The two had been standing by a roadside when Berner’s vehicle plowed into them.

Berner, who was 58 at the time of her conviction, has been out on bail since December, pending her hearing in Vancouver Thursday at the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Her lawyer, David Tarnow, is arguing Berner was wrongfully held at the scene of the accident and that her vehicle, which he characterized as crucial evidence, was wrongfully sold by ICBC for scrap metal before her trial.

"The fact that she was detained in the back of a locked police car for half an hour without warnings and the fact that the car was destroyed before I had a chance to have it independently inspected, I think those are both very good points," Tarnow said Thursday.

Berner is asking for an acquittal or a new trial.

Mother at hearing

Alexa Middelaer’s mother, Laurel Middelaer, attended the hearing.

"It's very hard to know that the person responsible for killing our child has formally apologized yet is doing everything they can to not take responsibility or accountability for their actions," Middelaer said outside the  court.

The court in the original trial found that Berner had been drinking and was travelling at more than 90 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

"It's really hard to get a good night's sleep ever since Alexa's death," Middelaer said. "My daughter had a right to be on the side of the road that day and to be safe."  

The panel of three judges reserved their decision, which is not expected for several weeks.

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri

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