'How do you miss all those signs?': Crown seeks 10-year sentence for driver in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

'How do you miss all those signs?': Crown seeks 10-year sentence for driver in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Crown prosecutor in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash case is asking for a 10-year sentence for truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu with a further 10-year driving prohibition after that.

Final arguments in the case are being heard today in a Melfort, Sask., courtroom.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 injured in April 2018 when the Humboldt Broncos team bus collided with a semi-trailer Sidhu, 30 was driving while working for a Calgary-based trucking company.

Sidhu pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving causing death and bodily injury earlier this month. The Crown is asking for a 10-year sentence for each count to be served concurrently.

Prosecutor Thomas Healey said Sidhu had more than enough time to slow down and stop, stating it would have taken the semi more than 100 metres to stop, but the first warning of the intersection was 400 metres away. Healey said Sidhu entered the intersection "like a rocket."

"This was not just an accident," he said. "This was a crime."

CBC reporter Jason Warick will be tweeting live from court this morning. On mobile? Click here.

He said it wasn't a case of momentary distraction, noting there were four signs in advance of the intersection, as well as a large stop sign with a flashing light. A car was also stopped directly across from him on the highway, waiting for the Broncos bus to pass.

"How do you miss all those signs?" asked Healey. "How is that possible?"

The Crown submitted 23 court cases for reference, citing one judgment which said a high number of deaths should result in a harsher sentence, and that the amount of harm caused should be relevant.

"All he had to do was stop. Just stop," he said. "And we wouldn't be here today."

Healey said Sidhu's guilty plea should be a mitigating factor, and believes he is remorseful.

He also has a clean driving record and no prior criminal record.

More than 90 victim impact statements were presented to the court by friends and families of victims during the sentencing hearing, which began on Monday.

The memorial for the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the site where 16 people died and 13 were injured when a truck and the team bus collided. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The emotional statements detailed the anguish families have gone through over the past year. While some families said they forgive Sidhu for his role in the crash, others said they would never be able to.

Victim impact statements play important role

Russell Otter, a retired provincial court judge in Ontario, said victim impact statements played an important role while he was determining a sentence.

"It gave a real impression … of what the impact, regardless of the offence, was on the victim, the victim's family and relatives," he said.

With 25 years of experience on the bench, Otter said he always took the statements very seriously.

"When we get to the sentencing process, there are many different aspects and components that the law requires us to consider," he said. "But the input by the victim was always an important factor."

Otter said Judge Inez Cardinal has a daunting task ahead.

"I don't envy the judge's task, quite frankly," he said. "But I am certain she will take into account all those particular statements. That's why they're in court and they're part of the record."

According to an agreed statement of facts, Sidhu was found solely responsible for the crash.

A forensic collision report found Sidhu's semi-trailer didn't brake at the intersection of Highway 335 and 35 before the crash.

The report said Sidhu's view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors like trees near the road or sun in his eyes.

It's not known whether the judge will reserve her decision. The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years in prison.

Published at Thu, 31 Jan 2019 14:16:39 +0000

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