May 25, 2010
By Jeff Parkinson
When Michael Bryant was arrested last year in the death of 33 year old cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard, it seemed that all efforts were being made to ensure that his status as former attorney general would not fetch him special treatment. He was released without a bail hearing, but aside from that he appeared to face the same treatment that anyone else would expect when their actions result in death.
Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death after he apparently hit the gas to shake loose a cyclist who had grabbed his steering wheel. We don’t know why Sheppard grabbed the wheel, and we don’t know why Bryant hit the gas to shake him loose, but we do know that a man is dead, and nobody is being held accountable.
A special prosecutor from BC was appointed to handle the case, and by all appearances Bryant seemed destined to face the justice system on an even keel.
Today, Crown prosecutor Richard Peck dropped all charges against Bryant, and is expected to address the court and cite no reasonable prospect of conviction as the reason. As someone who has watched the Crown repeatedly drop charges that had a very reasonable prospect of conviction for clearly political reasons, I’m not feeling very reassured that justice was done here.
On the other hand, having not been there when Sheppard was killed, I don’t know all of the details and am not in a great position to judge the Crown decision. This is the conflict that the erratic and illogical behaviour of the Crown in Caledonia cases has fostered in a member of the general public like me.
A quick check of comments being left on National media sites on this story suggests that I am not alone. In fact of the hundreds of comments that I’ve read this morning, I’m hard pressed to find many who think that justice was done fairly in this case. A few samples from cbc.ca
jesus jones wrote:
at 12:07 PM ET Did Michael Bryant try to peel Mr. Sheppard off of his car by smashing him into a mailbox and a tree? Is this a continuation of the pattern of well connected politicians getting off with a slap on the wrist? Cronyism?
at 2:50 PM I agree. Put your case together, try it and let a jury decide. If nothing else the process does two things. First, public disclosure of any evidence against Mr. Bryant as well as a review of the events and, second, the appearance of neutrality. This second point is critical. Read the posts on this board- the bias against Mr. Bryant by virtue of his position is incredible. The law must be seen to be doing its job for people to have faith in our justice system. Failing to move forward with charges further erodes what little confidence people seem to have left in our system.
at 2:50 PM ET Once again the people of Canada have been failed by the Canadian Injustice System. No wonder crime is flourishing and nothing is ever done. Brilliant move on the part of the Jack ass from BC to blame the victim. The dead can’t speak up for themselves. I wonder if Bryant would have run over a baby if he would have still been let off scott free. My guess is yes as we know Govt and the Crown is worse than the mafia. The mafia atleast has a code of honor that the govt doesn’t have. Street justice is what is created when justice is NOT served.
at 2:47 PM ET Yep, this just goes to show how Lieberals all stick together. There like peas in a pod. The rest of us dont matter, were just here for them to walk on.
Gorgon Zola wrote:
at 2:35 PM ET This is unmitigated horse sh*t. Bryant gets off scot-free while the news media makes the victim – the man Bryant KILLED – out to be the guilty party??
We will never know what would have happened had the charges not been withdrawn, but it’s plain to see that most of those in the public who care enough to be commenting do not trust the crown to represent their best interests which is a very sad state of affairs.
Personally I think Bryant should have gone on trial as most of us know we would, but since he is no longer charged with any criminal offence, I see no choice but to give him the benefit of the doubt. A fact that will be no consolation to the family of Mr. Sheppard whose death holds no consequences for anyone.
Update; May 26 2010, Bryant held a news conference today in which he said is not ruling out getting back into politics. The CBC reports that “Some Ontario Liberals told CBC that Bryant would be welcomed back into the party”
I was unable however to find any quotes from Bryant expressing remorse to the family of Darcy Allan Sheppard.