Nova Scotia

Man accused of texting in hit-and-run that killed veteran

RCMP have charged a 26-year old Sydney, N.S., man in the death of Jackie Deveau, who was killed two months ago while walking along Highway 125.

Thomas Joseph Smith arrested after Jackie Deveau died in a March hit-and-run in Cape Breton

Jackie Deveau and his wife Lorna had just moved back to his hometown of Chéticamp in October of last year. (Lorna-Jackie Deveau/Facebook)

A 26-year-old Sydney, N.S., man has been charged in relation to a fatal hit-and-run in Cape Breton two months ago, and is accused of texting behind the wheel and then leaving the scene of the crash.

Canadian Forces veteran Jackie Deveau, 54, was killed while walking on the side of Highway 125 near Sydney on the evening of March 11. The retired warrant officer and father of two grown sons lived in Chéticamp.

RCMP said they arrested Thomas Joseph Smith on Friday. He is charged with:

  • Failure to stop at the scene of a fatal collision.
  • Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
  • Criminal negligence causing death (text messaging while operating a motor vehicle).
  • Operating a motor vehicle while disqualified.

RCMP said two more people were arrested and charged with accessory after the fact. Both were released on conditions. Police said they expect to make more arrests. 

Smith will appear in court Thursday for a bail hearing. Crown attorney Shane Russell said he opposes Smith's release due to the nature of the charges. 

"Under the Criminal Code, they are subject to serious and significant penalties," said Russell.  

None of the charges has been tested in court. 

Family focusing on the good

Ida Lelievre says the family is relieved that justice has been done. (CBC)

Ida Lelievre, who grew up in the same house as Deveau and considered him a brother, said the arrest was "bittersweet."

"We are, of course, relieved that someone has been found and charged," she said.

She emphasized the positive support from the community and across the country.

"Our energies need to be focused on the good in all of this — the people that came forward, the people that have supported us."

Lelievre said the family was always confident the investigation would lead to an arrest.

"It's the start of closure, I guess, because this is going to be, we assume, a long haul."