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Port au Choix man convicted in ATV accident

Left injured friend bleeding on road

A man from the Port au Choix area was convicted this week after he fled the scene of an ATV accident, leaving his friend lying bleeding on the ground with a fractured skull.

Marcus Tony Spence was convicted in provincial court in Corner Brook of operating an all-terrain vehicle on a road, operating an all-terrain vehicle without a helmet and leaving the scene of an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle he was driving — all charges under the province's Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Regulations.

As well, Spence was convicted of a criminal charge of leaving the scene of an accident in which he was involved.

The court heard Spence had attended a shed party the night of June 10, 2017, and had left with group of friends, including a longtime buddy, for a local motel bar.

Another member of the group told the court Spence had been drinking at both locations, and was drunk. She said she and Spence left the bar around 3 a.m. and returned to the location of the shed party, where they picked up his ATV. She said she got on the vehicle behind him and he drove her home. Neither of them were wearing helmets, she said.

The woman said Spence had received a phone call from his longtime friend along the way, and she heard him tell the friend he was going to a party and would pick him up. He then dropped her off at her home.

Another woman testified she had been standing on the step of her friend's house having a cigarette early that morning when she heard what she called a "bike" going down the road, and people laughing. She then heard a "loud bang," she said.

Feeling there had been an accident, she and two friends walked in the direction of the sound, and found Spence's friend lying on the road, bleeding from his ear. The woman said Spence was standing near him, and there was an ATV there as well.

Her friend told the court she had seen two ATVs.

A third witness testified he and a woman had been walking to a party when they came across a man lying bleeding on the road. Spence was at the scene, he said, and so was his ATV, which he said he recognized from seeing Spence drive it previously. He said he told Spence to leave, not wanting him to get in trouble. He said Spence got on the ATV and left.

An RCMP officer told the court he received a report of an injured man shortly before 4 a.m. and went to the scene, where the man was being treated by paramedics. After speaking to witnesses, the officer said, he determined Spence had been there and left, and went with another officer to his house to check on him. A relative told him Spence was asleep on the sofa and seemed OK, so both police officers left.

The injured man was unable to remember much about the night of the accident, saying he recalled attending the shed party and nothing else until he woke up in hospital in Corner Brook the next day.

In her closing submissions, the Crown prosecutor acknowledged the evidence against Spence was circumstantial, but said the only reasonable conclusion that could be drawn was that Spence dropped his female friend home and then picked up his male friend, then got into the accident that caused his friend's injuries.

Spence's defence lawyer argued that two of the witnesses had been drunk at the time, and the possibility that the injured man was also driving an ATV could not be ruled out, since another witness had testified to seeing two vehicles at the accident scene.

Judge Wayne Gorman sided with the Crown, saying based on the totality of the evidence presented at trial, Spence had picked up his male friend on an ATV as planned and was subsequently involved in the accident that injured him.

"I am also satisfied that it would have been obvious to Mr. Spence that (his friend) had been seriously injured and needed assistance," Gorman said.

Spence has yet to be sentenced.

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