EDMONTON – An Alberta member of the legislature has been found guilty in a hit and run after the judge noted he didn’t provide any evidence to back up his alibi.
Derek Fildebrandt was fined $402 in court Monday.
“If it (the hit and run) happened, I wasn’t aware of it, but I accept the traffic court’s decision” Fildebrandt said after the ruling.
He declined to comment further.
Fildebrandt, 32, was found to have backed into his neighbour’s van with his red pickup truck near the legislature on the morning of June 6, 2016, before driving away without leaving a note.
Commissioner Stewart Douglas noted in his decision that the complainant, Amy Rawlinson, was sitting on her ground-floor condo balcony that morning about 10 metres away.
Douglas said he believed Rawlinson when she identified Fildebrandt as the person who walked to the pickup truck and got in just seconds before she heard a crash from the truck hitting the van.
There was no physical evidence produced at the trial. Fildebrandt told court he had traded in the pickup about a month later.
He also told court during earlier proceedings in February that he was not at his condo at the time in question because he was at a morning meeting of the Wildrose party caucus.
He promised to bring multiple witnesses to court to prove his assertion, but when the trial resumed in September, he didn’t bring any witnesses or produce other evidence.
The commissioner said that was key.
“The defendant cannot say with certainty where he was on June 6, 2016,” said Douglas.
Outside court, Fildebrandt’s lawyer Dale Fedorchuk said they tried to find witnesses from the caucus meeting but were unsuccessful.
Fedorchuk said there was no roll call or written record or minutes of who attended or spoke at the meeting.
“It was difficult to find someone who said, ‘Yes, I remember that specific date and I remember him (Fildebrandt) sitting in that meeting.’ And that’s the problem, frankly, that we faced.”
Fildebrandt is to be back in court in February to face charges that he shot and killed a deer on private property last month without permission from the landowner. He has already said he shot the animal and that he apologized to the landowner.
He is a first-term legislature member representing the constituency of Strathmore-Brooks. His political status remains in limbo.
The hit and run was one of a trio of revelations that forced him to quit the caucus of Alberta’s new United Conservative Party this summer and sit as an Independent.
The new party was formed when the Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose parties merged.
Fildebrandt was also found to have been subletting on Airbnb his taxpayer-subsidized accommodation in Edmonton and double-expensing some meals.
He is seeking to return to the United Conservative fold, but party leader Jason Kenney has said he wants to wait until Fildebrandt’s court issues are resolved.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Rawlinson was about 20 metres away.