Friends and family of Caitlin Jelley, Jazmine Houle and Steven Phillipe gather at a memorial site where the teens were killed June 21, 2009 by Nicholas Piovesan

The harshest penalty ever handed out in this country for criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death was given to Nicholas Piovesan in Sudbury court Thursday when he was sent to prison for seven years in the killing of three teens on Father's Day last year.

Piovesan, 27, showed no emotion as the penalty was handed down by Superior Court Justice David Nadeau.

In addition to the prison term, Piovesan will be prohibited from driving for 10 years when he is released from jail. Piovesan will be eligible for parole in a little over two years.

Justice Nadeau took an hour to deliver his reasons for the sentence.

The deaths of Steven Philippe, 16, Jazmine Houle, 15, and Caitlin Jelley, 15, were "horribly tragic," said the judge.

He described Piovesan's actions that evening as "atrocious, incomprehensible and horrifying."

The three teens were killed as they walked along the side of the road just after midnight, June 21, 2009.

Their deaths caused "tremendous and enduring pain," said the judge. It was "a parent's worst nightmare in its purest form."

The tragedy "also enveloped the community," he said.

Nadeau was told Piovesan was extremely intoxicated when he pulled out of a local bar's parking lot, driving just over two kilometres down the road before striking the three teens.

He then other kilometre and struck a house.

Piovesan showed a high level of disregard for public safety, said the judge.

But Nadeau also noted that Piovesan, who has said he can't remember anything that happened that night, has expressed a deep and genuine sense of remorse. He has excellent prospects for his future and comes to court without a criminal record.

Piovesan, he said, clearly shows he is at low risk to re-offend.

The purpose of a judicial sentence is not to extract vengeance, but to try and ensure such a crime never occurs again, while keeping in mind the rehabilitation of the offender, Nadeau said.

No matter what sentence is imposed, it is "simply impossible here" to balance the sentence with the depth of loss felt by the families and the community.

Over the years the courts have become cognizant of the destructive elements of drunk driving, Nadeau said. He pointed to a court decision from 1985 where a man was given a 21-month sentence for criminal negligence that, on appeal, was raised to 36 months.

More recently, the sentences have been in the penitentiary range (meaning two years or more), showing "the message of drinking and driving seems to be reverberating" from the courts.

"There has been a trend by the courts to increased penalties for drinking and driving offences," he said.

Source: Niagara Falls Review



Last updated on: 2015-02-27 | Link to this post