Kim Thomas holds a picture of her son Brandon Thomas at Calgary Courts Centre before a sentence appeal for the drunk driver who killed Brandon on Tuesday October 21, 2014

If it were up to Alberta’s top court, drunk driver Ryan Jordan Gibson would have been handed a prison term of at least four years.

But in rejecting Gibson’s appeal of his 32-month sentence on Wednesday, a three-member Alberta Court of Appeal panel said they were bound by the punishment imposed.

“A fit sentence here would be no less than four years,” the judges said, noting the Crown had not given notice of and intention to contend the original sentence.

“Recent authorities from other jurisdictions have seen fit to impose four and a half or five years imprisonment where less egregious driving patterns were present,” they said in a written ruling.

Gibson had appealed the 32-month sentence imposed by provincial court Judge Karim Jivraj who rejected a Crown and defence joint submission for a two-year term.

The appeal court judges said Jivraj was correct to find the two-year sentence proposed was outside the proper range considering Gibson’s conduct in killing Cochrane teen Brandon Thomas.

“A two-year sentence on all the evidence here would be profoundly unfit,” the appeal judges said.

They said the lawyers who proposed the two-year sentence were wrong to compare Gibson’s conduct with that of impaired driver Kayla Ann Stimson.

In 2011, the Court of Appeal increased Stimson’s sentence from 90 days to two years after she had killed a passenger when she rolled her vehicle on a gravel road.

“The gravity of this offence was undoubtedly at the high end of the spectrum,” they said.

“This case did not involve, as in Stimson, a driver momentarily losing control of a vehicle on an unfamiliar gravel road.

“Instead, Gibson drove his vehicle — a 3/4 ton truck — in a manner that could only be described as dangerous in the extreme,” they said.

Gibson was driving his truck southbound on Hwy. 22 on Dec. 6, 2012 when he entered the northbound lanes and forced one vehicle into a ditch and sideswiped a second before colliding head-on with the car being driven by Thomas, 17, who died at the scene.

Thomas’ mom, Kim, broke down in tears when told of the court’s comments.

“I always knew that,” she said, of the judge’s opinion the law called for a stiffer punishment.

“And that breaks my heart,” she said.

But the still-grieving mom said she takes solace that the court’s opinion will likely lead to higher sentences in the future, calling it Brandon’s “legacy.”

Source: Calgary Sun


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