Ottawa

Judge tosses evidence from collision investigator in fatal cyclist crash

In a major blow to the Crown's case, a judge has tossed out most evidence from an Ottawa police collision investigator who testified that the driver of the large truck that struck and killed Nusrat Jahan would have clearly seen the cyclist before he turned right.

Ottawa police Det.-Const. Alain Boucher's testimony and report ruled inadmissible Monday

Nusrat Jahan, 23, was struck by a truck and killed while cycling on Laurier Avenue W. on Sept. 1, 2016. (courtesy of family)

In a major blow to the Crown's case, a judge has tossed out most evidence from an Ottawa police collision investigator who testified that the driver of the large truck that struck and killed Nusrat Jahan would have clearly seen the cyclist before he turned right.

It comes after Det.-Const. Alain Boucher's re-enactment of the crash — recorded two months after it happened and played in court earlier in the trial — was revealed to contain several major errors.

​In his testimony last week, Boucher admitted the driver he used for the re-enactment is taller than driver Steven Conley, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death.

Boucher also admitted he made a mistake about the location of the stop line for cyclists in the segregated bike lane on Laurier Avenue W., and that in his report he wrote down the wrong size for Jahan's bicycle tires. There were also three different measurements for Jahan's height.

Conley's defence counsel asked for a ruling on the officer's expertise and the admissibility of his testimony in light of the errors, and on Monday Ontario Court Justice David Berg ruled that Boucher will not be qualified as an expert, and that he will not accept Boucher's evidence.

Re-enactment video still admissible

After Berg's ruling, defence lawyer Fady Mansour asked that Boucher's entire body of evidence, including his report that concluded Conley was at fault, be ruled inadmissible. Mansour argued the re-enactment was so flawed that it doesn't give an accurate picture of what Conley could have seen from the cab of his truck.

"This re-enactment gives you nothing," Mansour said. "In [Boucher's] analysis, he does nothing beyond what a layperson would do."

The truck involved in the collision didn't have side guards. (CBC News)

But Crown prosecutor John Ramsay disagreed, saying, "There's no mystery that Conley should have seen Jahan in her lane as he drove up to the intersection."

"Putting yourself in any truck driver's shoes like in this re-enactment will help you see that, even with all its shortcomings."

Berg told court he is "well aware" of the flaws in Boucher's report, and ruled Boucher's testimony and report inadmissible, saying he doesn't need the opinions of another layperson.

But Berg ruled that the re-enactment videos will remain admissible because they contain some "probative" value and give a general sense of what it's like in the cab of the truck.

The trial continues Tuesday with testimony from a defence witness with expertise in forensic collision reconstruction.