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 10:00 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

Just Posted

Black Press Kootenay Career Fair underway in Cranbrook

Today, Thursday, August 22, around 40 employers will be waiting to meet potential new employees

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Investment group plans to build water bottling facility in Golden

GoldenKey Investments Group has purchased a 20-acre parcel of land on Fisher… Continue reading

Golden Rockets begin season with main camp and exhibition games

The Golden Rockets season begins this Friday, August 23 at the Golden… Continue reading

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

NDP bring Green New Deal to the Kootenays

MPs Wayne Stetski and Peter Julian held climate change talks in Nelson, Cranbrook and Revelstoke

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Most Read