BRITISH COLUMBIA
08/21/2014 01:08 EDT | Updated 10/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Rookie cop didn't look for signs of alcohol smell after fatal B.C. crash: trial

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A Mountie who responded to a crash that killed two people says she didn't smell any alcohol on the breath of the alleged driver but that she didn't look for such signs as an inexperienced officer.

Const. Donna Gillingham testified in the trial of Wayne Fedan, who is charged with two counts each of impaired driving causing death, causing an accident resulting in death and dangerous driving causing death.

Fedan, 53, was charged after a March 2010 wreck that killed 20-year-old Brittany Plotnikoff and 38-year-old Kenneth Craigdaillie in Kamloops, B.C.

The Crown alleges the two were passengers in a pickup truck driven by Fedan.

Gillingham told B.C. Supreme Court that when she arrived at the scene at 1:33 a.m., ahead of other police officers, firefighters and paramedics, Fedan was lying on the ground beside the truck.

“He seemed to be alert,” she said. “He was asking questions, he was aware.”

She described seeing Plotnikoff’s body outside the front of the vehicle and a severely injured Craigdaillie lying across the two front seats.

“I was trying to keep people back from the scene, she said. “It was pretty graphic.”

Gillingham said she didn't smell alcohol on Fedan’s breath, though she spoke to him a number of times.

“There was a smell of dust in the air and I can’t say I noticed (alcohol),” she said. “That wasn’t my intention at that time.”

Gillingham testified that she was a rookie officer and might not have noted alcohol if she had smelled it on Fedan’s breath.

“I would not necessarily have made note of that then because I was a new member, a year-and-a-half, and I didn’t have that experience,” Gillingham said.

She said she would now look for signs of alcohol consumption and make note of them in a similar situation.

“At the time, I wouldn’t say I’d made note of it."

Court heard Gillingham found an almost-empty 1.75-litre bottle of whisky next to the vehicle.

The Crown alleges the bottle was inside the truck prior to the crash.

The Crown has said it will not use a blood-alcohol reading taken by police following the crash, but prosecutor Bernie Caffaro said in an interview that he intends to enter as evidence a reading taken in hospital hours later.

That reading is expected to be the subject of a charter application later in the trial. (Kamloops This Week)