Quebec woman who stopped for ducks allowed to appeal
Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1:07PM EDT
A woman convicted in the deaths of a motorcyclist and his daughter who crashed into her car when she stopped to help a family of ducks is allowed to appeal the verdict, a Quebec judge ruled Wednesday.
During a brief proceeding at the Quebec Court of Appeal Wednesday morning, Emma Czornobaj’s lawyers were told that they can appeal her convictions on two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.
A jury found the now-25-year-old Czornobaj guilty in June, four years after the fatal accident.
Her trial heard that on June 27, 2010, Czornobaj had stopped her car on Highway 30 in Candiac, south of Montreal, after spotting a group of ducklings on the roadway. Andre Roy was riding his motorcycle with his daughter Jessie on the back when he slammed into Czornobaj’s car. Roy, 50, died at the scene, while his 16-year-old daughter was pinned under the car. She died later in hospital.
Roy’s wife, Pauline Volikakis, was riding on her own motorcycle at the time and also crashed into the car. She suffered serious injuries.
Czornobaj’s lawyers argued at her trial that she had no criminal intent when she stopped for the ducks. While she may have exercised poor judgment in stopping on the road, she did not mean to cause anyone harm, they argued. Yet, she was convicted of a criminal offence.
Defence lawyers argued that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury left them with little choice but to convict Czornobaj, CTV Montreal’s Maya Johnson reported from court.
“We want the Quebec Court of Appeal to review this situation in Canadian criminal law, where you have some situations where a person without any criminal intent is nevertheless convicted of a criminal offence,” defence lawyer Marc Labelle told reporters Wednesday morning.
The appeal process could take between 12 and 18 months. Meanwhile, Czornobaj is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19, meaning she could spend some time in jail pending the appeal process, Johnson reported.