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Karl Lilgert leaves B.C. Supreme Court with family members in Vancouver on Jan. 17, 2013.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

The defence lawyer for the crew member charged in the sinking of a passenger ferry off the B.C. coast says the disaster was the result of "honest mistakes," not criminal action.

Karl Lilgert's lawyer is also using his closing arguments to deliver a scathing indictment of BC Ferries, which operated the ferry, saying the former Crown corporation placed costs ahead of public safety.

Lilgert is on trial for criminal negligence causing the deaths of two passengers, who haven't been seen since the ferry sank on March 22, 2006.

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Lawyer Glen Orris says Lilgert was attempting to navigate the ship down B.C.'s inside passage, but he was saddled with unreliable equipment and company policies that left him without any help on the bridge.

Orris says Lilgert has admitted he was in charge of the ferry and made mistakes, but Orris argues that's not the same as showing a wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of others, which the law requires for a conviction.

Orris asked the jury to find Lilgert not guilty of criminal negligence causing death, as well as on a lesser charge of dangerous operation of a vessel.

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