An Edmonton man was convicted Thursday of dangerous driving causing death - but acquitted of street racing - for a deadly 2010 collision that took the life of a 16-year-old.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Donna Shelley ruled that she was "very suspicious" that Jayant Soni, 35, had been racing his Mercedes-Benz against a driver in a Lexus north along 66 Street about 11:30 p.m. on April 23, 2010, just before the two vehicles struck a car being driven by Jeremie LeBlanc, 16, that was turning east on 31 Avenue.

However, Shelley said she had to find Soni not guilty of a charge of street racing causing death as the Crown had not proven it beyond a reasonable doubt.

But, she did find him guilty of dangerous driving, ruling Soni's "inherently dangerous driving" caused the death of the Sherwood Park teen, who had been on his way to the Grey Nuns Hospital where his sister was giving birth.

After the decision, an unidentified friend of the victim's family balefully looked at Soni and called it a "total joke" before angrily exiting the packed courtroom. "How can he get away with that - he killed a guy," she said.

Meanwhile, LeBlanc's mother collapsed in her front-row seat, sobbing loudly, and had to be helped out later.

In her lengthy oral decision, Shelley ruled she accepted the evidence that Soni and the driver of the Lexus, Rena Noi Onevathana, had been speeding and concluded that Soni had been going between 85 and 100 kmh and Onevathana had been going between 111 and 125 kmh.

Shelley also accepted the testimony of several witnesses that they heard loud engine revving prior to the collision.

The judge found that Soni's driving was a marked departure from the driving of a reasonable person as he was going significantly over the speed limit for a significant period of time and distance while the two cars were in close proximity of each other.

A sentencing hearing date is to be set later.

In February, Onevathana was handed a 90-day weekend jail term and suspended from driving for six months after earlier pleading guilty to failing to remain at the scene of the deadly three-car collision.

Although Onevathana denied during his case that he was the driver of the Lexus, he did admit being the driver when he testified during Soni's trial.

Onevathana also denied the two were racing at Soni's trial, but Shelley said his evidence was "not credible" and questioned how he and a passenger in Soni's car could not recall details of such a memorable incident.

Source: Edmonton Sun


Last updated on: 2014-12-24 | Link to this post