PICTOU – A Pictou County man charged with impaired driving and refusing a breathalyzer in 2011 has been granted one final adjournment.
John Arthur Gillespie was charged on Feb. 7, 2011, after RCMP were called to a motor vehicle accident in Little Harbour. Gillespie pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Supreme Court trial that began on March 8.
The trial was only scheduled for two days, but ended up lasting a total of six full days and three half days, all of which was spread over 17 months from the first trial date.
The delays were brought on by a series of court rulings, including determining the expertise of a toxicologist as well as a defence charter motion to determine if the accused’s right to counsel had been breached.
Justice Glen McDougall found Gillespie guilty of the indictable charges on Aug. 26 with the sentencing expected to take place Monday in Pictou, but one final adjournment was granted after the defence asked for time to speak to a witness who could provide information for the sentencing that is now scheduled for Oct. 30.
Gillespie testified during the trial that he had three drinks of whiskey earlier in the day on Feb. 7, and left his house around 5 p.m. to drive a friend home. Neither Gillespie nor the friend had a valid driver’s licence at the time.
He said he pulled the vehicle into a corner store in Trenton when he realized he wasn't feeling well. Gillespie asked his friend to drive and take him back to his house so he could pay him for some work he did for him.
It was on the way back to Gillespie’s home that the vehicle went off the road and into a snow bank along the side of Egypt Road.
Two passersby found Gillespie’s vehicle and called 911 for assistance. The court was told that Gillespie was sitting behind the steering wheel when one of the men looked in the vehicle and offered assistance. Gillespie testified he drank some whiskey to ward off the cold while he sat in the vehicle and another full bottle of whiskey was found it the car.
Gillespie told the court that he moved from the passenger seat to the driver’s side of the vehicle after he urinated on the seat because he was unable to get out the passenger side door.
He testified that he didn’t recall getting into the police vehicle or anything else until he woke up the next morning in a police cell. The court was told that Gillespie has diabetes and is on medication for the disease.
During the verdict decision, McDougall said he didn’t find the defence witnesses credible and there wasn’t enough evidence to back up Gillespie’s claims that his diabetes had any influence on his behaviour that evening.
“Despite not eating and despite not having gone another eight to 10 hours without medication he said he needed to control his diabetes, suddenly his ability to recall events came back,” said McDougall. “There is no medical explanation given for this. Indeed, there is a complete lack of any evidence of a medical professional, physician or otherwise, to support Mr. Gillespie’s claims of being a diabetic and, if he truly is a diabetic, which I am prepared to accept as a fact, there is nothing that would allow me to determine the severity of this condition or to tie his observed condition to his lack of food consumption and his failure to take his diabetes medication leading up to his arrest.”