New trial ordered for N.S. man acquitted in hit-and-run death of 10-year-old girl

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for a man who was acquitted of dangerous driving, impaired driving and leaving the scene of an accident in the death of a 10-year-old girl.

Talia Forrest was struck and killed by someone driving a vehicle on the evening of July 11, 2019, while riding her bike on Black Rock Road in Big Bras d’Or. RCMP reported at the time that the driver of the SUV had fled the scene.

The following month, Colin Hugh Tweedie — then 27– was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, impaired driving causing death, failing to stop at an accident involving death, and obstruction of justice.

He pleaded guilty to obstruction, after he lied to a police officer about who was driving at the time of the collision.

He was ultimately acquitted of the other charges after a trial in Sydney Supreme Court in February 2022, and later handed a suspended sentence and 18 months probation.

The Crown chose to appeal that acquittal.

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During the hearing on Thursday, which was heard by a three-member panel, the Crown argued the trial judge didn’t properly consider Tweedie’s blood alcohol content and didn’t address the issue of “willful blindness.”

The original trial heard that Tweedie believed the vehicle had struck a deer, but Crown attorney Glenn Hubbard said Thursday that Tweedie should have had “reasonable suspicion” and investigated further.

“I don’t think there’s a legal error here,” he said.

After the half-day hearing, the panel of judges unanimously agreed the appeal should be allowed and the acquittal set aside. All three matters will be entered for a new trial.

A written decision will be released later, but following the brief oral decision, some applause could be heard in the courtroom.

Talia’s family members spoke out following Tweedie’s acquittal in 2022 and were upset with the decision.

Her obituary described the young girl the “sweetest” and “brightest,” who “always had a smile on her face.”

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