Kim Thomas hugs supporters outside of the Calgary Courts Centre on May 12, 2014 after Ryan Jordan Gibson received a 32-month sentence in relation to a Dec. 6, 2012 crash south of Cochrane that killed her son Brandon Thomas, 17

Kim Thomas has every right to be angry.

After all, the still-grieving Cochrane mom lost her teenage son, senselessly, to the criminal conduct of a drunk driver.

For Thomas, the actions of Calgary driver Ryan Jordan Gibson are unforgivable.

So it’s not surprising Thomas was less than enthusiastic about the 32-month sentence handed Gibson last week in the Dec. 6, 2012, death of her 17-year-old son, Brandon.

Sure she was somewhat pleased that provincial court Judge Karim Jivraj ignored a joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers for an even lesser term.

But Thomas, like many others before her who have been horribly victimized by the idiotic actions of a drunk behind the wheel, wanted so much more.

She wanted Gibson to pay, and pay dearly, for snuffing out such a precious and short-lived life. Unfortunately, Gibson’s case wasn’t going to be the one which set the bar much higher in hopes of further deterring impaired driving.

In joining defence lawyer Alain Hepner in seeking a two-year term (the bottom end of the current precedental range of two to four years for offences of impaired driving causing death) prosecutor Ron Simenik admitted there were problems in the Crown’s case.

Simenik told Jivraj he was trading a lower sentence for admissions by Gibson he might otherwise not be able to prove.

In other words, the prosecutor was tipping his hand that rather than let a guilty man walk free because of a potential evidentiary problem, he was willing to settle for a lesser punishment.

Such trade-offs — known as quid pro quo, Latin for “something for something” — are commonplace in the criminal justice system, where so-called technicalities in the law can often derail a prosecution.

For Thomas, having Gibson pay at all had to be a better result than to see him walk free because of a flaw in the investigative procedure.

Simenik could have gambled and gone for the jugular with the hope of getting a conviction on the most serious charge of drunk driving causing death.

He might even have argued, if he’d won a conviction, that this was the case where it was time for the courts to send out a message that sentences for such crimes will continue to rise until potential offenders start getting it.

In a perfect world, that’s what Thomas would’ve gotten — a result which left her with a feeling that her loss wasn’t wasted, that Brandon’s death might prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Thomas has vowed to push for harsher terms for drunk motorists who maim and kill innocent people.

It’s a noble pursuit.

There’s no question the death count continues to mount as too many drivers are still willing to take a chance on the lives of others rather than suffer the inconvenience of a cab ride, or walk home.

Perhaps it’s time for courts to start punishing such offenders more harshly in the hopes that lives will be saved. But even that is no guarantee.

Had Gibson considered his jeopardy before he made the decision to drive drunk rather than look to other options, he might still have decided to get behind the wheel.

But if he had been told in advance that today if you drive drunk you will kill an innocent teenager, injure another woman, and ruin the lives of scores more, the threat of any jail wouldn’t have been necessary to deter him.

That’s one of the problems with drunk drivers — their ability to think things through is already severely impaired.

Let’s hope Thomas finds some solace in the future, whether it’s in the knowledge her fight brings harsher penalties, or simply greater public awareness.

And maybe then she won’t need to be angry — angry at a world where justice can’t always be perfect.

Source: The Calgary Sun


Last updated on: 2014-05-25 | Link to this post