In BC Court of Appeal on Dec. 16, the navigating officer of a BC Ferries ship that ran aground and sank in 2006 lost the appeal of his conviction of negligence causing the deaths of two South Cariboo residents
Karl Lilgert, who pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of 108 Mile Ranch couple Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, was in charge of navigating the Queen of the North when it struck Gil Island on March 22, 2006 and sank in 400 metres of water about 140 kilometres south of Prince Rupert.
Of the 101 passengers and crew aboard, Foisy and Rosette were the only people who didn’t survive, and they are believed to have gone down with the ship. Rescue personnel and a mini-submarine searched for days, but their bodies were never found.
During the trial, which lasted about four months, the Crown alleged Lilgert was negligent when, as navigating officer, he missed a scheduled course alteration and sailed the ship into Gil Island.
The Crown also alleged Lilgert missed the turn because he was distracted by his former girlfriend and lover who was on the bridge alone with him that night for the first time since their breakup.
However, the defence argued poor weather, faulty equipment and inadequate training were to blame. They also suggested Lilgert was attempting to steer clear of a fishing boat and that caused him to go off course.
On May 13, 2013, Lilgert was found guilty of criminal negligence causing the deaths of Foisy and Rosette.
On June 24, 2013, Judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein sentenced Lilgert for four years in prison, and banned him from operating a vessel for 10 years.
A few hours after the sentencing, Lilgert’s lawyer filed an appeal, claiming the judge failed to properly instruct the jury about what is necessary to prove guilt in a charge of criminal negligence causing death.
Not long after that, a $10,000 bail was posted and Lilgert walked out of the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver.
However, the BC Court of Appeal released a statement on its unanimous ruling on Dec. 16, stating it, found nothing wrong with the judge’s instructions and noted it determined that the jury did not believe Lilgert’s testimony