Former Łutsel K'e chief Darryl Marlowe acquitted of impaired driving charges

·2 min read
Former Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation Chief Darryl Marlowe has been acquitted on charges of drunk driving.  (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC - image credit)
Former Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation Chief Darryl Marlowe has been acquitted on charges of drunk driving. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC - image credit)

Former Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation chief Darryl Marlowe has been acquitted of an impaired driving charge from January 2021.

Marlowe took the stand in a Yellowknife courtroom on Friday. He gave his recollection of the events that unfolded leading up to the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2021 in Łutselk'e. He subsequently underwent cross examination.

After a family gathering for his late birthday celebrations, Marlowe said he shared two glasses of wine with his common-law spouse at their home while their children were asleep. Two friends joined them later, and he had one more glass of a mixed alcohol drink.

He said he felt "buzzed."

Marlowe recalled getting into an argument with his common-law spouse, and then asking one of his sons to drive him on his snowmobile to his grandmother's house to avoid further escalation.

"I had a few drinks and didn't want to drive," Marlowe testified.

In court, he described the road to his grandmother's as a sheet of ice at that time of the year. Marlowe said he was travelling on the back of the snowmobile, with his son at the front. The vehicle fishtailed, and flipped.

'Glad it was me that got injured, and not my son'

When police arrived at the scene, they found Marlowe unconscious near the vehicle. Marlowe was treated at Stanton Territorial Hospital for a severe concussion, and fractured ribs. His blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit.

RCMP reported that there were several people at the scene. No one else was injured, and no one came forward as a witness to the crash.

"Glad it was me that got injured, and not my son," Marlowe said in court Friday.

Separate assault charges stemming from that same day, which have since been stayed, led to his arrest on Jan. 18, 2021. It was during that arrest that Marlowe allegedly talked about the snowmobile accident.

A paraphrased version of that comment is that Marlowe was glad he was the one involved in the accident and not his son, because carbide bars had been placed on the skis of the snowmobile, making it susceptible to flipping.

The arresting officer, Harland Venema, said he typed out the statement on his computer shortly after the arrest, when Marlowe left the station. He then added it to a police report. The statement was not recorded on video or audio.

While Territorial Court Judge Jeannie Scott has previously found the comments to be admissible in court, she ruled Friday they weren't enough for the Crown to put Marlowe behind the wheel at the time of the incident.

Marlowe was acquitted.