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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Linda O’Leary told host of dinner party she was designated driver before fatal crash, court hears

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TORONTO — Linda O’Leary told the host of a dinner party she attended hours before a fatal Ontario boat crash to make her drink “super light” because she would be designated driver that night, a court heard Wednesday.

O’Leary, who is the wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act.

Court has heard she was at the helm when the O’Leary boat struck another vessel on Lake Joseph, north of Toronto, the night of Aug. 24, 2019. Two people on the other boat were killed in the crash.

Leah Smith, who hosted the dinner party before the crash, testified on Wednesday that she’s been a friend of Linda O’Leary for 15 years.

Smith told the court that when O’Leary arrived at the party, she handed her a drink but was told “if you’re making a beverage for me, you need to make it super light because I’m the DD.”

The retired school teacher testified that she then proceeded to make a cocktail, with what she believes included a three-quarter shot of vodka.

Smith added that she saw O’Leary’s wine glasses were turned upside down on the dining room table during dinner, and at some point during the night heard her say “Kevin’s never the DD, I’m always the DD.”

A provincial police officer testified Monday that O’Leary registered an “alert range” blood alcohol level in a breath test shortly after the boat crash, but that O’Leary told her she had only had one drink, and it was after the crash.

OPP Const. Michelle Ingham said O’Leary told her she couldn’t say how strong the drink was because it was handed to her by someone else.

On Tuesday, three people who were present in the immediate aftermath or the crash said they didn’t see O’Leary drink any alcohol or receive a drink from anyone after returning to shore.

The trial is continuing Wednesday afternoon, with a OPP marine reconstructionist taking the stand.

The defence has suggested the other boat did not have its lights on when it was hit.

With files from The Canadian Press

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