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Faces of delay

Matthew Heenan was killed by a drunk driver in Kelowna in 2009. His parents fear the person who took their son
Matthew Heenan was killed by a drunk driver in Kelowna in 2009. His parents fear the person who took their son's life could walk away unpunished because of long delays in B.C.'s justice system.
— image credit: submitted photo

Matthew Heenan was crossing a downtown Kelowna street with friends after leaving a nightclub Nov. 22, 2009 when he was mowed down by a drunk driver.

The 23-year-old Coldstream, B.C. resident was pronounced dead just over an hour later.

The driver was charged last August with impaired driving causing death and causing an accident resulting in death.

Matthew’s parents, Mike and Jo Heenan, have now been told a preliminary inquiry won’t happen until March of 2012.

They’re fearful the case against their son’s accused killer will be thrown out on grounds of the unreasonable delay in getting to trial.

Even if the trial proceeds by fall of 2012, that will be more than two years since charges were laid — deep in the danger zone where judges can be compelled to agree the wait has violated the rights of the accused.

“We are desperate,” Mike Heenan said.

They have appealed directly to B.C.’s Attorney General to proceed by direct indictment, eliminating the need for a preliminary inquiry – an unusual step that would normally have to be initiated by Crown prosecutors.

So far, the accused 49-year-old West Kelowna man has spent one day in jail and had a 90-day driving suspension.

“Our dead son is relegated to a number in the system,” Heenan said, adding Matthew worked at Kal Tire and was about to retrain as an autobody technician.

“Every day this person goes without trial is an affront to our son’s life and our society,” he said.

“Every day we are reminded of our son’s death and suffer the anguish of delays and uncertainty. Where is the justice? 

“When can we expect closure?”

 

 

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