A man who pleaded guilty to killing one person and injuring another while driving over the legal limit of alcohol was handed a three-year sentence on April 22.

The sentence included a three-year driving prohibition upon release and a mandatory DNA order.

Daniel Hoffman stood quietly while his sentence was delivered. Across the courtroom, the man he had injured broke down into tears.

For Bill Blahun, the sentence was not the end. His wife, Dianne, was killed on the Yellowhead as they were driving to a wedding on Oct. 5, 2012.

“Nothing that was said here today or decided here today changes my life. My life was changed forever … when the accused killed my wife,” Blahun said in a statement prior to sentencing.

“My wife got the death penalty and no amount of incarceration of the killer will change that.”

Court had heard previously that since the accident, Hoffman had quit alcohol entirely and had sought out a program to help with addiction. Additionally, after finding out he was about to become a father, Hoffman has been working steadily since to help support his offspring.

His parents were present in the courtroom for support and nine letters of character reference for Hoffman were provided to the court.

Presiding Judge Hon. Charles Gardner noted while the character references show this as “an aberration in an otherwise well-lived life,” he could not view the accident in the same light some of the writers did — as a momentary lapse in attention.

“The collision is the consequence of Hoffman’s consuming alcohol and then driving at a significant speed on an unfamiliar road with limited visibility,” Gardner noted.

Crown had called for a sentence between four to six years, followed by a lifetime ban on driving and a DNA order.

The defence had asked for a sentence between two to four years followed by a two-year driving prohibition.

Gardner noted a minor sentence would need extremely mitigating circumstances, while any sentence greater than four years would need aggravating circumstances present.

In this case, he considered mitigating factors to be Hoffman’s entrance of a guilty plea, his lack of a criminal or driving record and his status as a functioning and contributing member of society. Additionally, Gardner indicated, his voluntary enrolment in a program, the presence of his parents in the courtroom and his own fulfilment of parental duties reflect well on him.

“He is remorseful for what he has done; I accept that without hesitation,” Gardner said.

But Gardner further noted with the prevalence of impaired driving in our society, a deterring factor was necessary, leading to his judgment of three years.

Jail time had been expected — the only unknown factor for Blahun was how much.

“I am not happy or pleased that this man is going to jail. It brings no joy to me. That will not bring back my partner of 43 years,” he noted.

“What would bring some comfort to me is knowing that the jail sentence this person received will save someone else’s life.

“I truly hope that the incarceration of the accused will result in others refraining from drinking and driving.”

Source: Spruce Grove Examiner



Last updated on: 2014-04-25 | Link to this post