Calling her 17-year-old son Brandon who was killed by a drunk driver “an amazing young man who never got a chance to be an amazing adult,” Kim Thomas sobbed through a heart-wrenching victim impact statement on Wednesday at the sentencing hearing of the young man who caused the horrific crash.

“He loved to live every minute of every day — and he did,” Kim Thomas told court of her only son. “Two weeks before Brandon died, he did a paper about his future plans, all the dreams he had. Ryan Gibson took away Brandon’s future plans and mine. Had I known what was going to happen that day, I’d have kept Brandon at home and safe.”

Court heard Gibson, 24, was driving home to Cochrane southbound on Highway 22, south of Cochrane on the afternoon of Dec. 6, 2012, when he sped up to try pass two semi tractor-trailers in front of him at the same time. While in the passing lane, he struck one oncoming vehicle, then collided on the driver’s side of a Hyundai Sonata driven by Kelly-Anne McGillis, forcing it off the road and causing it to roll numerous times in the ditch.

Gibson then collided head-on with Brandon Thomas’s Subaru Imprezza, destroying it as a result. Thomas was trapped and died at the scene.

Gibson, who had a blood-alcohol level of more than double the legal driving limit, pleaded guilty to driving over .08 causing the death of Thomas and bodily harm to McGillis.

Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik and defence lawyer Alain Hepner presented a joint sentencing submission for a two-year prison term, plus five-year driving prohibition, but provincial court Judge Karim Jivraj adjourned to consider his decision to May 12.

Simenik said he overheard the victim’s family members outside court criticizing the proposed sentence as being too lenient, but he stressed “criminal courts are not courts of vengeance” and he has to abide by the Criminal Code and sentencing guidelines, which say two-to-four years is the range for such an offence.

“The accused does not have a criminal record, and his guilty plea is a sign of remorse and accepting responsibility,” Simenik said. “The accused is also giving up his right to challenge evidence in a trial. After trial that evidence might not have been in existence. A jury might not have known about this evidence.”

Kim Thomas, one of 14 family members and friends to have their victim statements read aloud, said outside court she was “very disappointed in the Crown” for not taking a stronger stance on penalty. Still, she said she believed the judge got to hear her family’s concerns and feelings about their devastating loss.

“The court says you can’t place a value on life, but a young life was taken that had everything in front of him,” said the distraught mother. “This is all about the accused, who has taken the life.”

Gibson gave a heartfelt statement before court was adjourned, saying he does not expect an apology from the family or friends of Brandon Thomas.

“I have thought about it every day for the last 70 weeks, and there is nothing I can possibly say that can undo the pain I have caused you,” he told the court, which was full of the victim’s family and friends. “I’m sorry for all the things you won’t experience with Brandon. I’m sorry for all the pain I caused to many people.

“I can promise to do everything in my power to honour Brandon’s life and I pray this tragedy can save the life of another person. There’s not a day goes by that I haven’t wished I could trade places with Brandon.”

Gibson said he promises never to drink alcohol and even consider driving again, nor will he let anyone else who has been drinking get behind the wheel after consuming even one drink.

“I’ll try for the rest of my life striving to be a good man. I no longer consider myself a good man,” said Gibson. “I look in the mirror and see disappointment and embarrassment.”

Nelson Thomas, the victim’s father, and Kyla, his 21-year-old sister, also gave victim impact statements to a packed courtroom that was often sobbing throughout the hearing.

Source: Calgary Herald


Last updated on: 2014-05-11 | Link to this post