Driver who struck and killed cyclist won't testify in his own defence

Steven Conley, the Ottawa truck driver who struck and killed cyclist Nusrat Jahan as she rode to school on Sept. 1, 2016, will not testify in his own defence as his lawyers closed their case Wednesday.

Driver's defence team closed their case Wednesday after a two-and-a-half-week trial

Steven Conley sits in the same construction truck he drove on Sept. 1, 2016, during tests by a collision reconstruction firm hired by Conley's defence team. (Supplied )

Steven Conley, the Ottawa truck driver who struck and killed cyclist Nusrat Jahan as she rode to school on Sept. 1, 2016, will not testify in his own defence as his lawyers closed their case Wednesday.

Conley, 40, pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death as the trial began two and a half weeks ago.

Court later heard that Conley made a right-hand turn in his Tomlinson construction truck onto Lyon Street from Laurier Avenue W. just before 8 a.m. that day in September, striking Jahan, who was 23.

An eyewitness testified earlier in the trial that after being hit, Jahan, who was under the truck, screamed twice for the driver to stop before his truck moved ahead, pinning the cyclist under the wheels.

The coroner who performed the autopsy — and who wasn't required to testify because the Crown and defence agreed on the coroner's findings — determined Jahan died from multiple blunt force trauma to her head and neck.

Cyclist was in blind spot, defence expert contends

On Wednesday, Ontario Court Justice David Berg qualified Mark Paquette, the Toronto collision reconstructionist who testified for the defence, as an expert witness.  ​

He told court earlier this week that he conducted tests with the same truck involved in the collision, and used 3D photographs in his analysis. He concluded Conley could not have seen Jahan on her bike when they were stopped at a red light on Laurier Avenue W. because the cyclist was in the driver's blind spot.

A diagram from collision expert Mark Paquette's blind spot testing report, which concluded that Conley could not have seen Jahan when they were stopped at the intersection. (Supplied)

The Crown called several witnesses who were at or nearby the intersection at the time of the fatal crash, as well as the police officers who arrived first.

But the Crown's key witness, an Ottawa police collision reconstructionist, was not qualified as an expert by the judge, rendering the bulk of his evidence inadmissible. Det.-Const. Alain Boucher had attempted a re-enactment of the fatal collision, but his final report contained several major errors. 

Berg has reserved his decision on the defence team's Jordan application, which, if granted, could stay the proceedings due to Conley's constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable time as determined by the Supreme Court of Canada.   

Lawyers for both sides will be back in court July 20 to submit documents, and then the trial will be adjourned until Nov. 5, 2018, when closing submissions are scheduled to be made.