Regarding the material element (actus reus) of the offence of criminal negligence, the Court pointed out that while there were no regulations imposing periodic vehicle inspections, the defendant was required to ensure that the backhoe could be used without risk of endangering the safety of others. From the evidence, the Court concluded that the vehicle was poorly maintained by the defendant and was, for all useful purposes, not serviced. The defendant had therefore placed himself in a situation where he could not know the effects of, and the inherent risks arising from, braking system wear and tear.
As for moral intent (mens rea), the Court had to determine whether the defendant had shown a wanton and reckless disregard for the life and safety of others, i.e., whether the defendant's conduct represented a marked and significant departure from that of a reasonably prudent person. If the answer was yes, it had to assess the defendant's conduct in order to determine whether a reasonable person, placed in the same situation, would necessarily have been aware of the risk arising from such conduct.
The Court concluded that an ordinarily prudent person who used a heavy vehicle for his work would, in fact, be aware of the risks associated with a defective braking system and the importance of regular vehicle inspections. The Court therefore held that the defendant had shown blindness and a flagrant lack of diligence. Furthermore, because of that serious lack of diligence, the argument that he was not aware of the defective mechanical condition of the backhoe was declared inadmissible.
The Court also dealt with section 217.1 of the Criminal Code. This recent provision, while it does not create an offence, confirms that anyone responsible for work is under a duty to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of others. It therefore facilitates proof of criminal negligence charges against corporations or organizations.
In this instance, there was no need to use section 217.1 of the Criminal Code: the Court found the defendant guilty under section 219 of the Criminal Code because the prosecution had proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, all constituent elements of the offence of criminal negligence.