SCC Case Information
Kaitlyn Ruth Smith v. Her Majesty the Queen
(Alberta) (Criminal) (By Leave)
Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.
Criminal law – Driving offences – Evidence – Standard of proof – Business records – Medical records – Exception to rule of inadmissibility of hearsay evidence – Crown tendering record of hospital blood analysis results as prima facie proof of its contents in impaired driving case – Does any business record admitted into a criminal trial pursuant to s. 30 of the Canada Evidence Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-5 (the “Act”) automatically constitute presumptive proof (i.e. prima facie proof beyond a reasonable doubt) of its contents - Does a record produced by a machine (such as a blood – alcohol reading produced in a hospital) automatically constitute prima facie proof beyond a reasonable doubt of its contents just by entry into a criminal trial pursuant to s.30 of the Act.
The applicant was the driver of an automobile involved in a single vehicle accident. She was seriously injured and one of the four passengers was killed. Blood and other samples were taken from her in hospital for the purpose of medical treatment and analysis. The police obtained the records showing the results of the sample analyses (the “toxicology report”). The applicant was charged with dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death, driving with more than 80 mg of alcohol to 100 mg of blood in her system and taking a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner, contrary to sections 249(4), 255(3), 253(1)(b) and 335 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46.
The Crown tendered the toxicology report at trial and relied on it as prima facie evidence of its contents. The trial judge admitted the evidence contained in the toxicology report under s. 30 of the Act and held that the report only proved the truth of its contents on a balance of probabilities. Because the Crown had failed to call evidence establishing the reliability of the hospital’s analysis of the applicant’s blood alcohol level, it had failed to prove that fact beyond a reasonable doubt. The applicant was acquitted of the over .08 charge and the charges of dangerous driving and impaired driving causing death, but was convicted of taking a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. The Alberta Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial on the first three charges.