‘I don’t believe his headlight was on,” man charged in fatal testifies

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A man charged with dangerous driving causing death testified Tuesday that he only saw an oncoming motorcycle a “millisecond” before impact because its headlight was off.

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Justin Lozon testified on the sixth day of his trial in an Owen Sound courtroom that his car’s headlights lit up the black Honda Shadow just before it collided with the Pontiac he was driving,

Lozon, 35, of Northern Bruce Peninsula is charged with dangerous driving causing death and possession of methamphetamine on Oct. 3, 2017 in Northern Bruce Peninsula.

Rev. Edward (Chad) Honneyman, 38, died when his motorcycle hit Lozon’s car head-on along Highway 6 just after 8 p.m., while he rode home to Wiarton from Ferndale.

When court opened, Superior Court Justice John Sproat gave reasons why he found initial statements Lozon made to police were admissible in the trial and also dismissed a defence motion for at directed verdict of acquittal on the dangerous driving count.

Sproat went through several pieces of evidence, including that the motorcycle should have been visible to Lozon long before the crash, and concluded the evidence “supported an inference of guilt,” if he accepted the Crown’s case at its “highest.”

“At this stage, I’m not indicating what inferences I would draw and how I would decide the case,” Sproat said.

Lozon testified he and his brother frequently drove their father’s Pontiac, in which police found two “dime bags” of methamphetamine at the crash scene. “I was unaware of any drugs in the car,” he said. He testified his brother died of a fentanyl overdose six months ago.

Lozon testified he was driving north on Highway 6 on the night of the crash to visit a friend, who lived at the end of a long lane, accessed from the highway. As he approached it, he checked his rear view mirror and saw a couple of cars’ headlights quite a distance behind.

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“I checked for oncoming traffic, I don’t see anything oncoming. I look for my friend’s driveway,” he testified. He slowed, signalled left for about 15 or 20 seconds and began to turn, when “a motorcyclist is illuminated, like a foot or two feet in front of my car at the last second, and he collided with me.”

He’d been to this address many times at night but since there was no light at the end of the driveway, it was difficult to see, he said. “You wouldn’t be able to see the laneway ’til you’re pretty much right up on it.”

Why did he only see the motorcycle when it was two feet away, asked his lawyer, Andrew Loucks.

“I don’t believe his headlight was on,” Lozon testified. He suggested the bike may have been obscured by a “slightly crested hill” or only visible while he was checking his rear view mirror, or looking for the driveway. “But I think if there was a headlight, I would still see it. And I would have seen it long before I approached my destination.”

Lozon told his lawyer he hadn’t consumed alcohol or narcotics that day, nor had he been distracted by his cellphone, which he said he’d put on silent mode, nor by anything else just before and during the collision.

Lozon was charged with driving while suspended, a Highway Traffic Act offence, on the night of the crash and was released. The criminal charges were laid after further police investigation.

But a Sept. 27, 2017 Ministry of Transportation letter advised Lozon that his driving suspension would be effective Oct. 9 — six days after the crash. It was made a trial exhibit.

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Lozon testified he was a “careful” driver, which Greg Brotherston, an assistant Crown attorney in Grey County, challenged. He showed Lozon’s driving record with 19 entries as of Oct. 6, 2017, many of which were for unpaid fines, Lozon said.

Brotherston noted a driving suspension Lozon was given ended on May 24, 2017. Then on Aug. 7, 2017, Lozon was charged with careless driving and on Sept. 25, 2017 he was convicted of that offence — eight days before the collision.

“Are you still maintaining that you’re always a careful driver?”

“I am. That was an isolated incident where I went off the road,” Lozon said. Also Sept. 25, Lozon was convicted of failing to produce a motor vehicle permit, insurance card and driver’s licence and suspended driving. Lozon said he didn’t have his documents with him.

Brotherston noted the offence date for the later suspended driving conviction was May 19, 2017 — a few days before a previous driving suspension ended. “But you maintain you’re always a careful driver?”

“I’m always paying attention and watching when I’m driving,” Lozon said. “I may not pay my fines right away because I’m not made of money.”

Brotherston put it to Lozon that the motorcycle Honneyman was driving “clearly on the evidence had a fully operational and functioning headlight and you turned your vehicle into the path of that motorcycle.”

“There was no headlight, no active headlight,” Lozon responded.

Citing the police reconstruction of the crash, Brotherston put it to Lozon that the headlight was visible for up to 480 metres prior to the collision. Lozon replied it would have been, had the light been working.

Brotherston suggested Lozon hadn’t signalled his turn. Lozon said that’s false and named a witness he said confirmed she saw the signal light.

Justice Sproat expressed doubt that he could consider Lozon’s statement that he was always a careful driver, other than to the extent it could reflect on a person’s honesty or integrity, to help weigh the credibility of their evidence.

Brotherston said that was why he pursued Lozon’s assertion.

Final arguments will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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