Ila Watson holds a photo of husband Brian Watson, who was killed in an April 2016 hit-and-run near Chase. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week)

Ila Watson holds a photo of husband Brian Watson, who was killed in an April 2016 hit-and-run near Chase. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week)

Driver who killed B.C. motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

  • Jul. 17, 2019 9:00 a.m.

––Kamloops This Week

The family of Brian Watson, a Shuswap man run down and killed while riding his motorcycle near Chase three years ago, is angry after learning the man who struck Watson with his truck has been released from custody without any court-imposed conditions.

Raymond Edward Swann, 58, has been granted an absolute discharge by the B.C. Review Board following a psychiatric assessment to determine his risk to re-offend.

In February, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley ruled Swann could not be held criminally responsible for killing Watson due to a mental disorder.

Watson, 60, was killed while riding on Squilax-Anglemont Road on April 3, 2016.

READ MORE: A tragic loss to hit-and-run collision

READ MORE: Man admits responsibility for 2016 death of Shuswap motorcyclist

“I am speechless at this point,” Watson’s wife, Ila Watson, told KTW in an email regarding the B.C. Review Board’s decision. “We have had to go through hell the past three years being hopeful justice would prevail.”

In April, Dley ordered Swann to undergo a risk assessment before receiving a disposition from the B.C. Review Board.

The review board rendered its decision on June 28, stating it had concerns and was left with unanswered questions — noting it was still a mystery whether Swann intended to collide with Watson, believing he was a threat, or whether in his confused state he simply didn’t see him on the road.

The fact no neuropsychological testing was done to rule out or confirm a cognitive disorder, the rarity of someone having a rapid onset of symptoms at Swann’s age and the randomness of the incident were noted concerns.

READ MORE: Driver’s charges upgraded to murder after fatal North Shuswap crash

“It was of particular concern that Mr. Swann acted out against a seemingly random target so soon after the onset of his psychosis; there is no evidence that the victim was an identified target,” reads the board’s reasons for disposition.

The Crown stressed that without definitive evidence of Swann’s intentions, the review board can have no confidence it won’t happen again.

In making its decision, the board relied on the testimony of a Dr. Sunette Lessing — a court-appointed psychiatrist who was also one of four experts who testified during the trial.

Lessing was of the opinion Swann posed a low risk to re-offend in a violent manner, telling the board Swann’s symptoms were in remission, he was compliant with treatment and he hasn’t experienced any issues since he was released from hospital after the April 2016 collision.

Swann was also found not to have current or historical issues that would predispose him to act in a violent manner.

“The case law is clear, where the only evidence before the board is that there is no significant threat, there must be an absolute discharge,” stated the board’s disposition.

At trial, court heard Swann and his wife were visiting a friend when Swann abruptly left, driving away from the home in an erratic manner.

He stopped his truck in the middle of a road at one point and threw his cellphone, along with his wife’s cellphone, into the bush, saying people were tracking them. He raced away in his truck and his wife tried to follow in her car, but couldn’t keep up.

At about 2 p.m. she came across a motorcycle and helmet on a lawn and saw Swann and his damaged truck parked at a nearby supermarket.

His wife told Swann he had been involved in a collision and Swann asked if she had seen “the blue van and the men with guns.” He drove off again, later phoning police from a friend’s house and telling them he had run somebody down.

In interviews following the incident, Swann said he felt strange and afraid that he was going to be killed.

During trial, the Crown argued Swann’s confused state of mind was caused by the sleep deprivation, heavy drug use and drug withdrawal he had been experiencing, as opposed to a disease of the mind.

Psychiatrists who examined Swann agreed he was not in his usual mental state, but disagreed on the cause.

Swann was initially charged with second-degree murder in connection with Watson’s death, but that charge was later reduced to criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Prior to the B.C. Review Board’s decision, Swann was under a condition prohibiting him from operating a motor vehicle.

“Having granted Mr. Swann an absolute discharge, the board is unable to make any further order concerning his drivers licence,” the board’s disposition reads. “Our hope is the Crown will take the necessary steps to ensure that Mr. Swann’s driving privileges are appropriately reviewed.”

Michael Potestio, Kamloops This Week


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits Nanoose Bay property

Experts say interesting look may simply be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

The section of Highway 19A between Laburnum Road and Goodyear Road was closed to traffic due to a single vehicular accident. (DriveBC illustration)
Section of highway closed after vehicle hits pole near Qualicum Beach

Traffic disrupted for hours; two people taken to hospital

Joan LeMoine. (Peter McCully photo)
OPINION: Joan LeMoine represented the very best in all of us

Beloved Parksville area volunteer left an indelible mark on the community

Seiners fill the waters between Comox and Nanoose Bay during roe herring fishery. file photo, Pacific Wild
Quota debate heats up on the eve of Vancouver Island herring fishery

Industry and conservationists weigh in how much catch should be allowed as DFO decision coming soon

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker in Nanaimo fails at fraud attempt, slams door on business owner’s foot

VIDEO: Suspect causes pain and damage in incident downtown Friday morning

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Randy Brown, owner of Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue, has five trailers and a motorhome at the back of his property that he is renting to people who had been previously homeless. He wants to put 15 trailers on his property, hooked up to city sewer and water and BC Hydro. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Alberni building owner digs in, refuses to remove illegal trailers

Port Alberni council gives owner two-week reprieve on remediation orders

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Most Read