Lengthy trial looms for man accused of plowing through Kelowna's tent city

Trial looms in tent city crash

The man accused of being behind the wheel of a truck that ran over a person sleeping at Kelowna’s Rail Trail encampment is set to go to trial next month.

Tyler Manchur, born in 1992, is charged with counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and impaired driving causing bodily harm in relation to the incident on Sept. 25, 2022.

Overnight, a black Dodge Ram drove through the city-sanctioned encampment, struck an occupied tent and dragged it nearly 100 feet, significantly injuring the man inside.

On Tuesday, lawyers involved in the case met before a Kelowna judge in advance of the trial set for Feb. 12 to 15, and it quickly became clear that a much longer trial will be needed.

“There's a lot of video,” Crown counsel Miho Ogi-Harris said, describing the amount of evidence gathered by investigators in relation to the night of the incident.

Ogi-Harris said the Crown will aim to prove at trial that Manchur had several drinks at the Liquid Zoo before getting in his truck, driving away and later crashing into the Rail Trail encampment.

The prosecutor said when police arrived at the crash scene, Manchur was already out of the vehicle and was being held by a group of homeless individuals who had roughed him up and prevented him from leaving. Manchur then failed a breath test, she said.

Defence lawyer Janine Sicotte said they have problems with the veracity of the video evidence and related timestamps, as well as gaps in the video evidence. She pointed to a 30 minute gap in evidence when Manchur leaves the Liquid Zoo to the next time the truck is captured on video leaving the Hotel Zed parking lot.

“It just leaves open the possibility that the truck has been in other places, or that there were other individuals involved and a number of unknowns,” she said.

Sicotte said the defence also plans on filing a Charter notice related to the breath sample Manchur supplied after the crash and the voluntariness of a number of his statements.

“The Crown is seeking jail. And without firm evidence that can lead us to a guilty plea, we simply can't advise our client to do that,” she said.

Two days after the crash, Manchur called Castanet News and claimed he had “zero memory” of a large chunk of the night and said he believed he was drugged.

"I did blow over on the blow box, but not nearly enough to do the damage that was caused," Manchur said at the time, explaining he was speaking to the media because he wanted to the community to know "I'm not a dangerous person."

Ogi-Harris noted the Castanet interview and article is part of evidence collected by police and has subpoenaed the reporter who conducted the interview to testify at the coming trial, presumably to verify the authenticity of the recorded interview.

Ogi-Harris also said the victim in the incident has since died of unrelated causes.

Court heard the previously set four-day trial window was set under the assumption that the defence would be prepared to make significant admissions related to the evidence the Crown was submitting.

With that not expected to take place, the judge ordered the file back to court schedulers to find an additional five days of court time.

The clock is ticking. The file has to be resolved by March 2024 under SCC R v. Jordan, which limits provincial court proceedings to 18 months, after which time the defence can apply to have all charges dropped.

The judge noted the tight timeline and ordered the lawyers to make filings quickly and avoid further delays.

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