After several weeks of delays, Dustin Dennis Zinter took the stand in his own defence. Zinter is on trial for numerous charges, including dangerous driving causing death. (KARL YU/News Bulletin file)

Accused takes stand in trial for fatal crash in Yellow Point

Dustin Dennis Zinter represents self, testifies in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

The B.C. Supreme Court trial of a man charged with dangerous driving causing death resumed with the accused choosing to represent himself and testifying.

Dustin Dennis Zinter, 40 at the time he was charged, is pleading not guilty to the dangerous driving charge in addition to failing to stop at the scene of an accident and refusing to provide a breath sample in a November 2015 accident on Yellow Point Road, where Heidi Barbara Plato, 51, of Ladysmith, was killed. The trial was delayed when Zinter fired Stephen Taylor, his legal counsel, June 22, after Nick Barber, Crown counsel, had presented his case. Zinter subsequently missed a court date on June 28, had an arrest warrant issued and was arrested.

In his testimony to Judge Robin Baird on Thursday, Zinter said he had been at work as a general contractor the day of the accident and was headed home. He went to a liquor store near Holden Corso Road where he bought a small bottle of whisky. He went home and realized he forgot to buy cigarettes and decided to go to the Wheatsheaf Inn – he got into the accident while en route.

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Zinter said it was dark and raining. It was alleged that he was on his cellphone before the accident, but Zinter refuted that, stating reception in the area was poor. He had asserted that a light on Plato’s vehicle was burned out and while he was heading through an S curve, he saw the headlight. He said he was in his own lane headed northbound when the head-on collision occurred. Zinter said he wasn’t going faster than 50 kilometres an hour and thinks Plato lost control.

Zinter said he hit his head on his windshield and he said he lost his glasses. He said his memory was fragmented after that, but in regards to leaving the scene, Zinter said he recalled he sat down on the side of the road and wasn’t hiding in a ditch as other witnesses said. He drank the whisky while on the side of the road.

When queried by Baird about the failure to provide a breath sample, Zinter said he didn’t recall being asked for a breath sample, but vaguely remembers being asked about a blood sample.

The day’s proceedings began with William Heflin, a Victoria lawyer, stating he would represent Zinter for purposes of seeking adjournment and bail application. Heflin said Zinter had retained “MEA Forensics in Vancouver” to review an accident reconstruction report.

Heflin subsequently asked to be excused from the court when he said Zinter didn’t have the necessary funds.

Zinter also apologized for his actions at his previous court appearance, when he continually talked over Baird, leading the judge to stand down court a number of times.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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