An RCMP toxicologist testified on Tuesday, detailing his findings in the trial of a Nanaimo mother charged in a December 2008 crash that left her two sons dead and two daughters injured.
Ronald Pon took the stand to explain his analysis of alcohol and drugs found in the blood of Clare Suzanne Bekkers.
Pon said he found alcohol, cocaine metabolites and antidepresssant metabolites. He said metabolites are compounds found in the body after a substance is ingested.
Blood tests were taken approximately one hour and 40 minutes after the accident, and showed at the time 42 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliletres of blood.
Pon explained that by extrapolating backward, he concluded that her blood alcohol level at the time of the accident would have been between 59 and 76 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres. He said the cocaine metabolites found in her system were in such significant amounts that she either had to have ingested a large amount of cocaine a couple days beforehand or a smaller amount closer to the time of the accident.
Pon testified that the antidepressant metabolites indicated higher-than-normal doses as well.
He also testified that although no pure cocaine drug was found in Bekkers' system, she could have been in the "crash phase" of the drug's cycle, which could have left her excessively tired and irritable.
High doses of an anti-depressant known to cause drowsiness when taken in higher than prescribed doses, along with alcohol in her system, he said, could have created a scenario where Bekkers' judgment, motor skills, reaction and possibly even her vision could have been negatively affected.
Crown prosecutors also asked Pon to prepare a report that predicted what her blood alcohol levels would have been at 12: 30 p.m. and 1: 30 p.m., based on the results taken the day of the crash. His report suggested that if Bekkers excretes alcohol in the normal range of "about 90% of the population," she would have had 93 to 148 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (12: 30 p.m.) or between 83 to 128 milligrams (1: 30 p.m.).
Witnesses who previously testified said Bekkers got into her car by 1 p.m. on the day of the crash.
Defence attorney Bert King questioned Pon's evidence, suggesting that there were too many assumptions made for Pon to say conclusively what Bekkers' state of sobriety would have been at 4: 20 p.m., when the accident occurred.
"You don't know, specifically, if the accused eliminates alcohol at the rate of the average," he said and Pon agreed, although he emphasized the likelihood that Bekkers would fall within the normal range.
King also suggested because the court does not know when Bekkers ingested cocaine, and that because it is possible she had done large amounts of the drug well in advance of the accident, that the presence of the metabolites in her system didn't necessarily suggest she was still in the crash phase of the drug.
The trial continues today.
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