News

Death of York Const. Garrett Styles 'accident,' court told

By Tracy McLaughlin, Special to Postmedia Network

York Regional Police Const. Garrett Styles.

York Regional Police Const. Garrett Styles.

NEWMARKET - 

He may be “foolish,” he may be “stupid,” but the 15-year-old teen who caused the death of Const. Garrett Styles is not criminally responsible, his defence lawyer said Tuesday.

“It was an accident,” James Lockyer said in his closing to the jury. “He panicked with his foot on the accelerator when he believed it was on the brake.”

The teen, now 19, was just 15 when he stole his parents van and took it for a late-night joyride that ended in the death of 32-year-old Styles, a York Regional Police officer, on Hwy. 48 north of Newmarket June 28, 2011, court has heard.

Styles pulled the teen over for going 140 km/h in an 80-km/h zone. The teen refused to get out of the van or hand over the keys, so the officer reached to grab them, the trial was told. The vehicle suddenly sped off with Styles trapped half-in, half-out. The van travelled 300 metres before it lurched, rolled and pinned Styles beneath it. He died shortly after — and the teen was left a quadriplegic.

Teen was panicked and terrified and wasn’t able to think, said Lockyer, who noted his client is now a “trapped prisoner” inside his own body.

“In his foolishness, or dare I say stupidity, his failure to consider the consequences is the mark of a 15-year-old,” the lawyer said.

But Crown attorney Robert Scott scoffed at the defence theory that the teen stomped on the gas pedal by mistake, dragging the officer with him.

“This was no accident,” Scott said, noting that seconds before the teen took off, he asked his buddies in the back, “Should I dip,” meaning flee from the officer.

“And lo and behold, he dips, knocking Const. Styles off his feet and leaving him to have to hang on for dear life,” Scott said. “What did he think was going to happen? With Const. Garrett’s body hanging out of the vehicle at high speed?”

While the defence argues the teen did not have the vehicle in park, the Crown insists he did and made a deliberate move to shift the van into gear to drive away — which shows intent.

Though planning and deliberation are key issues in most first-degree murder trials, deaths involving police officers need only prove the act was intentional and that the accused knew there was a likelihood of death.

The Crown also disputed the defence theory that the teen acted out of terror, insisting he was a seasoned thrill-seeker who had stolen his parents vehicles for midnight joyrides dozens of times.

“He got a thrill out of taking risks,” Scott said.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Friday evening.

The 5th annual “Memorial Ride 4 Styles” fundraising event kicks off Sunday morning. Cyclists from across the region can register at the York Regional Police headquarters in Newmarket.

 



Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »