Cape Breton man’s acquittal overturned in death of 10-year-old girl out riding her bike

Nova Scotia’s highest court has ordered a new trial for a Cape Breton man accused in the hit-and-run death of a young girl out riding her bicycle.

Collin Hugh Tweedie was acquitted last spring on three charges related to a crash that killed Talia Forrest in July 2019.

Tweedie was the driver of an SUV that collided with Forrest on Black Rock Road in Big Bras d’Or.

On Thursday, a panel of three judges with the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned Tweedie’s acquittal, however, they did not immediately provide reasons behind their decision.

Crown lawyer Glenn Hubbard told the panel Tweedie was wilfully blind on the day of the crash, telling himself he had struck a deer and shutting out any possibility that he might have hit someone. 

Hubbard also argued the trial judge used an outdated interpretation of provisions of the Criminal Code in deciding whether impairment was a factor in the crash.

‘Ground zero’

Defence lawyer Tony Mozvik argued the Crown was submitting arguments that had never been heard before.

He also told the panel that his client spent a lot of money defending himself and has already endured a trial where every day was difficult.

“I guess we’re back to ground zero at this point in time,” Movzik told reporters outside the courtroom.

Tweedie was found not guilty last spring after a six-day trial on charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at an accident involving death. At the time, Justice Mona Lynch of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruled the Crown failed to prove that Tweedie drove the vehicle recklessly or while impaired.

Several of Forrest’s family and friends started clapping after the acquittal was reversed on Thursday.

A person in the crowd also shouted “thank you” to the judges as they began to leave the courtroom.

In the courthouse hallways, there were tears, cheers and people sharing hugs with one another.

Jeff Bonnar, a friend of the Forrest family, made the four-hour trip to Halifax from Cape Breton and carried a poster-sized image of Talia into the courthouse.

“I got kids myself and it would be brutal going through this,” Bonnar said.

You can read about legal help here