Grace Pesa says a courtroom statement Monday from the drunk driver who killed her son was a step in the right direction, and so was the driver’s three-year prison sentence.

“It shows there is a heart and it is an acknowledgment of the suffering we have all been going through,” Pesa said outside court, alluding to Kulwinder Singh Chohan’s statement regarding the crash that took the life of Francis Pesa, 20.

“But, since the beginning, we have all been at the mercy of the justice system.”

Grace Pesa said the three-year sentence meted out by provincial court Judge Joanne Durant, who accepted a joint submission by Crown and defence, is higher than in many similar cases and a step in the right direction. But she would still like to see a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years for impaired driving causing death.

Durant also prohibited Chohan, 37, from driving for another five years after he has finished serving his prison time.

“It was an early guilty plea and shows acceptance of responsibility; he has no prior criminal record; and, he is 37 with a job,” said Durant. “But there were two other vehicles with six people inside that were at risk. It’s lucky no one else was killed or seriously injured. Also, his blood alcohol level was well over twice the legal limit (of .08).

“I heard 34 victim impact statements that were personal and poignant. They dealt with your guilt, hatred and hopelessness. And I would like everybody to move forward with your lives, but that doesn’t dishonour (Francis’s) legacy.”

Sheri Arsenault of Families For Justice said, “The public does not perceive three years as a high sentence. . .Drunk driving is the number one cause of criminal deaths and it’s still treated like an accident. Not only are four to five people killed a day in Canada, but over 200 are injured every day because of drunk drivers.”

Court had heard Pesa and his girlfriend Christina Quach were driving in a BMW on Metis Trail N.W. on New Year’s Day 2014 when a Dodge Ram crossed the centre line and struck their vehicle.

The Ram, driven by Chohan had side-swiped a Mazda before crashing into the BMW. Another car then hit the Ram.

A bottle of Crown Royal rye was found in the passenger side of Chohan’s truck, court heard, and his blood-alcohol level was later deemed to be between .178 and .215.

Pesa and his family had just returned from the Philippines, where he had spent a month visiting and helping family following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. The disaster killed thousands of people, including 40 of Pesa‘s relatives.

“I already lost a lot of loved ones,” the victim’s father, Ramil Pesa, said in his victim statement. “But nothing can compare to the loss of my son Francis.”

Quach was too distraught to attend court in January when the guilty plea was entered. But in her statement read aloud by a friend, she said she had lost her best friend.

“I did not ever imagine that at my age I would have to watch the love of my life take his last breath and feel the warmth of his hands leave me.”

Source: Calgary Herald


Last updated on: 2015-01-30 | Link to this post