Pandora bus death: Judge denies lawyer access to witnesses' police files

Victoria, B.C. – The defence lawyer for a man charged with pushing a woman under a bus won’t be allowed to see thousands of pages of police information on Crown witnesses.

This morning, Judge Ernest Quantz denied defence lawyer Bob Claus’s application for police database material on 10 Crown witnesses to assist him in cross-examining them as to their character, credibility, reliability of evidence and competence.

Quantz didn’t immediately release his reasons for his decision.

However, the move means the manslaughter trial for 21-year-old Christopher Groves begins today on schedule. In February 2009, he allegedly pushed Ariana may Simpson into the path of an oncoming bus on Pandora Avenue near Quadra Street. The 20-year-old woman, known to the street community as Harley, was hit by the bus and pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses said the incident stemmed from a confrontation between homeless people and two men who appeared to be intoxicated.

Last week, Claus said he wanted the police documents because witnesses have offered varying descriptions of what happened during the altercation that led to Simpson’s death.

Claus asked for reports and documents from all the witnesses’ contacts with police, regardless of whether they were charged or convicted. some of the witnesses are drug users who might also have been under the influence of alcohol at the time, he said last week.

Moreover, some witnesses have connections with others and have been involved in violent acts, he said.

Crown prosecutor Kimberly Henders Miller told the court last week that she was prepared to send Claus reports that resulted in the convictions of witnesses and any other outstanding, unproven charges before the court. But she opposed the defence’s attempt to gain access to police records that are not part of the investigation.

Police lawyer David Edinger estimated that to comply with Claus’s request, the police department would have to produce more than 10,000 pages of documents, which would take weeks to gather.

Groves will be tried by judge alone and his trial is expected to last three weeks.

Pandora bus death: Judge denies lawyer access to witnesses' police files