Still grieving supporters of a drunk driving victim were asked by a Calgary judge Monday to not let his death define their lives.

 In a rare step for her, provincial court Judge Joanne Durant spoke directly to the family and friends of Francis Pesa moments after sentencing his killer to three years in prison.

“Moving forward with your lives and finding joy in new things — and each other — does not dishonour Francis Pesa, nor does it mean that you somehow loved him less,” she told a packed courtroom.

Durant reviewed nearly three dozen victim impact statements in which supporters of Pesa told of the profound loss his death had caused them.

Many quit school, or put careers on hold because of his death a year ago, following a head on collision with drunk driver Kulwinder Singh Chohan.

“I have heard expressions of anger, despair, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, hatred and in many cases it is clear that lives have come to a complete stop,” Durant said.

She noted how many of them spoke of the profound impact Pesa had on their lives.

“I cannot imagine for a moment that such a remarkable young man would want his life defined only by what happened at the end of his life and in this courtroom today,” Durant said.

“That he would want his legacy to be that all of you who loved him continue your respective lives focusing only on what is missing — rather than on what you still have.”

Despite her words, the judge acknowledged the three-year sentence handed Chohan, part of a joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers, wouldn’t satisfy Pesa’s supporters.

“The Criminal Justice system will not ever be able to provide you with what you want or with what you need — and that is to have your son, your brother and your friend returned to you,” Durant said.

“I can’t do that for you and for that I am truly sorry.”

Pesa’s mother, Grace, was appreciative of the personal address by Durant saying it “shows that there is a heart” in the court system,

“It was an acknowledgement of the suffering we are all going through,” she said.

But the mom said she will continue to push for changes in legislation to impose a mandatory minimum of five years for drunk drivers who kill.

After he serves his time, Chohan will be prohibited from driving for five years.

Source: Calgary Sun


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