Truck driver not guilty in 2016 death of cyclist

The driver of a truck that struck and killed a cyclist on Laurier Avenue W. in 2016 has been found not guilty in her death.

Nusrat Jahan was riding in Laurier Avenue bike lane when she was struck, killed

Steven Bruce Conley was behind the wheel of the truck that struck and killed cyclist Nusrat Jahan, 23, on Sept. 1, 2016. On Tuesday, he was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death. (CBC News)

The driver of a truck that struck and killed a cyclist on Laurier Avenue W. in 2016 has been found not guilty in her death.

Nusrat​ Jahan, 23, was stuck and killed on Sept 1, 2016, as she crossed Lyon Street in the Laurier Avenue bike lane. She was on her way to Willis College, where she was a student.  

Nusrat Jahan, diplomat's daughter, identified as cyclist killed Thursday morning

Steven Bruce Conley, 40, pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.

Outside the Ottawa courthouse Tuesday, Conley's lawyer, Dominic Lamb, said his client "remains devastated by the death of Ms. Jahan, and sends his condolences to her family.... He's a father, he has a child to support, and hopefully he'll be able to continue on working and, to some extent, as much as you can, put this behind him."

The judge's decision "confirms what we've always believed — that this was a tragic accident," Lamb said.

However, Lamb maintained it never should have been treated as a criminal matter. "We believe it was unworthy of criminal prosecution, and we believe this was a case that should have proceeded in the provincial offences court."

Nusrat Jahan, 23, was on her way to Willis College when she was struck and killed at Laurier Avenue W. and Lyon Street on Sept. 1, 2016. (courtesy of family)

Turned on arrow

During the trial, Lamb acknowledged Conley had failed to signal before making a right-hand turn onto Lyon Street from Laurier Ave W. 

Crown prosecutor John Ramsay argued Conley should be convicted because he failed to wait until the green forward arrow turned to solid green before starting his turn.  

"Conley made a decision that day that raises it to the level of criminal content," Ramsay said during the trial. "It is a tragedy, but the negligence goes beyond what's in the Highway Traffic Act."

Conley never testified in his own defence.

Steven Bruce Conley leaves the Ottawa courthouse on Feb. 5, 2019. (Martin Weaver/CBC )

Seeing isn't noticing, judge concludes

Justice David Berg concluded Conley's driving failed to meet the criminal threshold of dangerous driving as outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada.  

Berg also accepted evidence that Jahan had been in Conley's blind spot.

We all recognize your loss and grief.- Justice David Berg

"I accept Mr. Conley must have seen Ms. Jahan as he drove toward the intersection, but seeing is different than noticing," Berg said.  

Berg also commiserated with Jahan's brother, who lowered his head as the decision was read Tuesday.

"[Nusrat Jahan] was hardly mentioned as a person in this trial, but it was not about her life, but her death," Berg told him. "We all recognize your loss and grief."

Conley stood showing no sign of emotion as decision was read.

Conley's lawyer said his client is still driving a truck for Tomlinson Group, his employer at the time of the deadly collision.  

Steven Conley "remains devastated" by the death of Nusrat Jahan in 2016, according to Conley's lawyer, Dominic Lamb. 0:34

Flawed reconstruction

The Crown's case was dealt a severe blow earlier in the trial when Berg tossed out most of the evidence of an Ottawa police collision investigator, who testified that Conley would have clearly seen the cyclist. 

It was revealed in court that the police re-enactment of the crash contained major errors.  

Later that September, the city moved stop lines back at some intersections to create more space between bikes and cars.

A safety report commissioned by the city after the crash made several recommendations, and specifically sought ways to deal with right-turn collisions on Laurier Avenue W.

Steven Bruce Conley is seen seated in the cab of a truck during a collision reconstruction. (Supplied )