R v. Smith

In Due Diligence, Fish Cases, Offences on (Updated )

The accused was the owner of a gill net vessel which participated in a commercial chum opening. His regular deckhand was not available and he was therefore required to hire another experienced deckhand. Before doing so, he obtained the recommendation of a previous employer of the deckhand. Evidence was led that it was common practice for gill net vessels to hire deckhands so as to give the owners an opportunity to sleep.

During the opening, the accused was tired and decided to have a nap. Prior to taking his nap, he entered the co-ordinates of the fishing area boundary into the Loran and instructed the deckhand on how to use the Loran to ensure the vessel stayed clear of the closed area. The deckhand assured him that he was fit to take over.

While the accused was asleep, the deckhand failed to properly carry out the accused’s instructions and the vessel crossed over the boundary into a closed area.

At trial, the trial judge acquitted the accused on the grounds that he " took all the care that a reasonable man might have expected of him under these circumstances." On appeal, the Court applied the test in R. v. Sault Ste. Marie and upheld the decision of the trial judge.