The Attorney General of Ontario sought forfeiture of a sailboat on the basis that its owner, Valentin Chygyrynskyy “was seen operating his sailboat in Toronto harbour … struck a moored power boat [then] was observed falling out of his boat into the water.” Mr. Chygyrynskyy provided breath samples of “158 mgs and 147 mgs of alcohol per 100 ml of blood,” almost twice the legal limit.
Although there was no doubt that Mr. Chygyrynskyy had operated the sailboat while impaired, Corbett J. of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice concluded that this type of conduct fell outside the proper scope of the Civil Remedies Act:
“The general forfeiture provisions of the CRA do not authorize forfeiture of a leisure sailboat because the owner operated it while impaired. The CRA was intended to target organized crime, persons who make money from criminal conduct, and persons engaged in the most serious of criminal offences. It was never intended to cast such a wide swath as contended for by the A.G. Ontario in this application.”
Corbett followed the British Columbia case of Director of Civil Forfeiture v. Robinson and Allwright, and concluded that although it was possible Mr. Chygyrynskyy would re-offend, it could not be proven on the balance of probabilities that he would re-offend. Furthermore, it could not be proven on the balance of probabilities that his offence was “likely to result in … serious bodily harm to any person,” as required by s. 7(2) of the Civil Remedies Act.
Accordingly, the sailboat was ordered returned to Mr. Chygyrynskyy.
Decided by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on September 30, 2015.
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