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N.S. man convicted of dangerous driving causing death of friend


A Nova Scotia man has been convicted of dangerous driving causing the death of a friend and injuries to another. Trevor VanMerrebach, 23, of Williamswood was convicted Tuesday. He was acquitted of another charge of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm. VanMerrebach was behind the wheel of a car that left the Old Sambro Road in the early hours of Nov. 13, 2005, and struck a power pole.

HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia man has been convicted of dangerous driving causing the death of a friend and injuries to another.

Trevor VanMerrebach, 23, of Williamswood was convicted Tuesday.

He was acquitted of another charge of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm.

VanMerrebach was behind the wheel of a car that left the Old Sambro Road in the early hours of Nov. 13, 2005, and struck a power pole.

Mike Supple, 18, was thrown in the crash and killed.

Another passenger, Christopher Duggan, was injured, as was VanMerrebach.

VanMerrebach also faced charges of impaired driving causing death and bodily harm, but those were dropped at the end of the trial last month.

The three young men, best friends since elementary school, had been drinking beer at a friend's place earlier in the evening.

The court heard that the car, travelling well over the posted speed limit of 60 kilometres an hour, began to slide on a right-hand curve. It spun counter-clockwise through the opposite lane, flew over a ditch and hit a pole.

The force of the crash ejected all three occupants and scattered car parts up to 45 metres.

Duggan testified that he and Supple pleaded with their friend to slow down and let them out, but VanMerrebach didn't listen.

VanMerrebach blamed the crash on a sticky gas pedal, which he said caused the car to accelerate out of control.

In his decision, Justice Robert Wright of Nova Scotia Supreme Court said he accepted Duggan's evidence and dismissed VanMerrebach's version of events as not plausible.

The judge said he found it strange that someone so familiar with driving a car with a manual stick shift did not think to engage the clutch or shift into neutral when the pedal allegedly stuck.

He said it was more likely VanMerrebach was showing off the power of his car's five-litre engine.

"This was not a momentary lapse of . . . judgment," Wright said.

A presentence report was ordered and VanMerrebach will be sentenced on March 7.

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