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Guilty on all charges: Colin Tweedie convicted in hit-and-run death of 10-year-old Cape Breton girl

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Nearly five years after the hit-and-run death of a 10-year-old Cape Breton girl who was riding her bicycle on a rural road, the driver who struck Talia Forrest was found guilty on all three charges against him at Sydney Supreme Court on Friday.

Justice Kevin Coady convicted 32-year-old Colin Tweedie on counts of dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and leaving the scene of an accident.

At his first trial in March 2022, Tweedie was initially found not guilty on all three charges. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned that decision in January 2023, and a new trial was ordered.

 “Oh, my God, thank the Lord, justice got served today,” said Leahann Arsenault, Forrest’s aunt, as she and a large crowd of family members and supporters walked out of the court room after the decision was handed down.

“It’s been a while – almost five years of fighting for justice for Talia — and we just got it,” said Halen Williams, Forrest’s cousin.

Forrest and a friend were riding their bikes on the Black Rock Road in Black Rock, N.S., on the night of July 11, 2019 when Forrest was struck by a 2004 Nissan XTerra driven by Tweedie.

The court was told that the vehicle continued on, dragging the bicycle underneath it for approximately 1.15 kilometers.

Tweedie initially told RCMP investigators that he thought he had hit a deer.

Two breath samples were taken from Tweedie several hours later at the Baddeck, N.S., RCMP detachment. Both times, the reading was slightly below Nova Scotia’s legal limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Justice Coady’s oral decision on Friday found the Crown had proven its cases beyond a reasonable doubt on all three charges.

“The strongest message is, ‘Don’t drink and drive,’” said Crown attorney Darcy MacPherson, who added it was too early to speculate what kind of sentence the Crown might seek. “Because that’s what happened here, was somebody drank and drove and somebody died and it could happen to anybody.”

The second trial took place over five days in March, and roughly a dozen witnesses testified.

In delivering his decision, Justice Coady said what happened on the night of the crash left “an indelible scar on otherwise bucolic lives” in the community where it took place.

In reaching a verdict, Coady said Tweedie’s explanations to RCMP investigators didn’t stack up against the evidence.

“Well, obviously we’re disappointed,” said defence lawyer Tony Mozvik. “We didn’t expect it would go this way, we were hoping it was going to be similar to last time.”

When asked whether he might appeal the decision, Mozvik didn’t rule out the possibility.

“We’re going to think about it. When the decision was being read out, there was a couple of issues that caught my attention,” Mozvik said. “But again, until we get the full version of the decision we wouldn’t be making that decision.”

Tweedie has been released on conditions, and will return to Sydney Supreme Court for sentencing July 26 at 9:30 a.m.

Family members who spoke with CTV Atlantic said while Friday’s guilty verdicts came as a relief, their fight is not over.

“Closure, but (we can’t) move on yet until he’s in jail and is held accountable for what he’s done because he’s still living freely right now,” Williams said.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. 

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