Canada

Linda O’Leary’s defence points to boat light evidence in closing arguments at trial

TORONTO – An attorney for Linda O’Leary argues that evidence that another ship’s lights were off when his client fell on it is too strong to be found guilty of the fatal boat collision.

The closing arguments began this morning at the trial of O’Leary, who is charged with an August 2019 boat crash north of Toronto that killed two people.

The wife of prominent businessman Kevin O’Leary has pleaded not guilty of negligent operation of a ship under the Canada Shipping Act.

Her attorney Brian Greenspan said in court earlier today that video and witness evidence that the other boat’s lights were off at the time of the crash outweighed “speculation” of possible wrongdoing by O’Leary.

He argued that it was not possible to know the speed Linda O’Leary was traveling, whether she was being affected by alcohol at the time, or whether she was neglecting the boat.

Greenspan argued that she should be absolved of responsibility as the Crown could not prove that any of these factors played a role in her actions.

Linda O'Leary

“There can be no rational, reasonable evidence to suggest that the Nautique was invisible to Mrs. O’Leary on that dark, moonless night,” Greenspan said in court.

Kevin O’Leary testified in his wife’s defense on Wednesday, saying he saw “zero light” from the other ship that was involved in the Lake Joseph night crash until after the collision.

The former “Dragons’ Den” star was a passenger on the family’s pilot boat at the time of the crash, along with another injured friend.

Gary Poltash, 64, of Florida, and Suzana Brito, 48, of Uxbridge, Ontario, died of their injuries after the crash, and three others were also injured.

The question of whether the other boat had turned on the lights was a matter of dispute in the case.

Witnesses on the other boat, including the owner who was charged in the crash for not showing navigation lights, testified that they remembered some lights were on.

Greenspan said, however, that the testimony of these witnesses should be treated with caution.

He argued the judge should dismiss their evidence because it inconsistent with the video showing that the lights on the 16-foot Nautique ship were out when the crash occurred and with the testimony of witnesses in the O ‘ Leary Cottage who said they had the lights on the other boat won’t come on until after the crash.

Kevin O’Leary also testified that he could not remember if his wife drank alcohol in the hours before the crash.

The court previously heard testimony from a police officer who said Linda O’Leary recorded an “alarm range” level of blood alcohol in a breath test carried out shortly after the accident. The officer said Linda O’Leary told her she only had one drink after the crash.

Greenspan argued Thursday that the Crown had no evidence to prove the importance of this alarming test result or whether it affected its client’s boating.

He also pointed out on video evidence that she was leaving a dinner party in another cottage just before the nightly crash that appeared to make her function normally.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 21, 2021.

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