Accused in Beaumont triple-fatal drunk-driving crash pleads not guilty

A man accused of driving drunk and killing three younger men in Beaumont, Alta., in 2011 pleaded not guilty this morning in a Wetaskiwin courtroom.

A man accused of driving drunk and killing three young men in Beaumont, Alta., pleaded not guilty this morning in a Wetaskiwin courtroom.

Jonathan Pratt faces three counts each of impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol content over .08 causing death, and manslaughter in the deaths of Bradley Arsenault, 18, Thaddeus Lake, 22, and Kole Novak, 18.

Arsenault, Novak and Lake were killed on Nov. 26, 2011 when their car rolled on Highway 625 south of Beaumont after it was struck by a pickup truck.

Pratt's lawyer Timothy Dunlop challenged some of the evidence around who was actually driving the vehicle and whether police had the right to test his client's blood-alcohol level.

Dunlap said he requested recordings more than a year ago of communications between officers at the scene.

He suggested the recordings might show that his client was not driving the pick-up truck that slammed into the three victims.

However, the recordings were destroyed, as is apparently typical after two years in that part of the province.

 Arguing the loss of evidence is detrimental to the defence’s case, Dunlap asked that all charges against his client be stayed – a motion Bradley Arsenault’s mother says is like grasping at straws.

“Heartbreaking again because you know what he's done – allegedly done, I should say I guess – to three families and then to carry on like this. It's just a case with such strong evidence,” said Sheri Arsenault.

The Crown acknowledges there is some evidence missing in the case, but argued it did not breach its duty to disclose all evidence to the defence.

The judge is expected to rule quickly on the request to have the charges stayed.