Against a political backdrop where the federal government is proposing six-year mandatory minimum sentences for drunk drivers who kill people, a Calgary judge handed a 3 ½ year term Wednesday to a man responsible for the deaths of two people in an alcohol-related crash.

Justice Barbara Romaine told Ryan Thomas Kramer the sentence is intended to be a deterrent to others, but the head of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter in Calgary said it doesn’t send that message.

“I don’t think 3 ½ years is enough for killing two people,” said Karen Harrison, president of MADD Calgary.

“It would have been a different story if (Romaine) was saying seven to 10 years. That would have sent a message.”

Kramer, 26, pleaded guilty last fall to two counts of criminal negligence causing death in connection with the deaths of Faton Doberdolani and Venera Simnica on Nov. 6, 2011.

Doberdolani and his girlfriend, Simnica, were stopped at a red light on McKnight Boulevard N.E. when Kramer’s Lexus slammed into their car at more than 100 km/h. A police breath test showed Kramer had a blood alcohol reading more double the legal driving limit when he got behind the wheel after drinking with three friends at a northeast Calgary strip club.

Romaine said Kramer didn’t set out to kill anyone that night, but his choice to drive drunk cost the lives of Doberdolani and Simnica, who were part of a tight-knit community of Calgarians originally from Kosovo.

Doberdolani, 27, had no family locally, but had made a life for himself in Calgary and was in the process of getting his Canadian citizenship; Simnica, 24, had relatives here and managed a fast food outlet. Neither family submitted victim impact statements or came to court on Wednesday, but Romaine said the impact of Kramer’s actions is undeniable.

“Mr. Doberdolani and Ms. Simnica have families and their grief is more bitter … because of the preventable conduct of another human being,” Romaine said.

The Crown had argued for a four- to five-year sentence; defence lawyer Rebecca Snukal asked for a term between two and three years.

While acknowledging Kramer is remorseful and noting fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — which impedes judgment and decision-making — played a role his actions, Romaine said his sentence must deter others from choosing to drink and drive.

“That choice is unacceptable and has heavy consequences,” she said.

Last week, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay introduced legislation that would impose a mandatory minimum sentence of six years for impaired driving offences causing death. Critics quickly pointed out the bill has no chance of passing before Parliament is dissolved in advance of this fall’s federal election.

The six-year mandatory minimum proposed by the federal government wouldn’t have applied in a case like Kramer’s, who pleaded guilty to a different offence: criminal negligence causing death. MADD, which has pushed the government to give police the authority to conduct random breath testing on drivers, said one reason the reforms fall short is because they provide a legal remedy only after someone has been killed.

“We want to prevent (impaired driving) from happening,” Harrison said.

After Romaine passed sentence, a sheriff took Kramer — who had been free on bail — into custody. He will receive approximately 40 days’ credit against his sentence for time spent in custody following his arrest.

In addition to the prison term, Romaine imposed a five-year driving prohibition after Kramer is released.

Source: Calgary Herald


Last updated on: 2015-07-09 | Link to this post