October 18, 2018 6:23 pm
Updated: October 18, 2018 6:28 pm

Toronto man on trial for impaired operation of canoe causing child’s death

Catherine McDonald was in court today and spoke exclusively to the accused David Sillars.

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Jamie Rancourt has been mourning the tragic death of his son eight-year-old Thomas Rancourt for 18 months, but says wants to see justice done and believes the man who took Thomas canoeing the day he drowned should be punished for what he did.

“Why? How could you be so stupid? It just doesn’t make sense,” Rancourt told Global News outside the Oshawa courthouse on Thursday.


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Crown attorney Frank Giordano told the court that Thomas drowned on April 7, 2017 after the canoe he was riding in capsized. Thomas had gone for a canoe ride with his mother’s boyfriend, David Sillars, on the Muskoka River that cold spring day despite the fact there were high water warnings at the time.

Sillars, the 39-year-old boyfriend of Thomas’ mother, is now on trial for impaired operation of a vessel causing death, over 80 milligrams causing death, criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. He pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

The court heard Sillars managed to escape the vessel, take off his shoes and swim to shore. But Thomas continued down the river and went over High Falls, a steep, 50-foot waterfall down river from where the canoe flipped over. Thomas was eventually rescued by two OPP officers, one of whom testified at the trial that the boy could not be saved.

READ MORE: 8-year-old boy dead, Toronto man charged after canoe capsizes near Bracebridge

“Officer Adrian Woods was one of the first officers to pull my son out of the water. I’d like to thank them both, hats off to them, they did a great job,” Rancourt said.

The officer won’t be testifying in court because Rancourt said she is still dealing with trauma from finding his son and doing so would set her recovery back.

After court on Thursday, Sillars spoke about the tragedy saying he’s dealing with the loss by getting a lot of therapy.

“I just lost my stepson. I miss him dearly. I wish things were different,” he told Global News.

Sillars said since the case is still before the courts, he can’t speak about what happened that day.

The trial is expected to last until the end of November. It is being heard by a judge alone.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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