R. v. MacKay

In Offences in a Marine Context on (Updated )

The accused was the owner and operator of a pleasure craft that collided with a buoy in Halifax Harbour. A passenger was killed in the collision. With respect to the test for criminal negligence, the Court said “if his operation of the vessel was a marked and substantial departure from the standard of the reasonable operator in circumstances where he should have either recognized, knew of and ran an obvious and serious risk to the lives and safety of others or gave no thought to that risk or was wilfully blind and the consequences were the natural result of the conduct creating the risk, only then could it be said that the accused is at fault for criminal negligence". Although the Court found as a fact that the vessel was proceeding at an unsafe rate of speed, the Court also found that the buoy with which the vessel collided had shifted its position unbeknownst to the accused. The accused was familiar with the area and had a reasonably held belief that it was safe to operate the vessel in the direction he was proceeding. Accordingly, the Court held the accused’s conduct was not such as to support a charge of criminal negligence. However, the Court did find the accused guilty of dangerous operation of a vessel the test for which is whether the conduct of the accused was "a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonable prudent operator in all the circumstances".