Jul 29, 2015 - CALGARY HIT-AND-RUN DEATHS HIGHLIGHT NEED FOR CANADA TO CRACK DOWN ON DRIVERS WHO FLEE THE SCENE OF SERIOUS COLLISIONS


If Colin Jones had actually spent 30 months in prison, the message might have had meaning.

But just seven months after the killer hit-and-run driver received what was hailed as the harshest sentence ever handed to a motorist fleeing a collision, the Calgarian was free on parole.

The court’s supposed deterrent back in 2007 proved a dud.

And if the Crown can prove the driver who left Farida Abdurahman dying in a northeast Calgary crosswalk late Monday night purposely fled the scene, that motorist can also expect a very short stint behind bars, if he’s actually jailed at all.

Canada just doesn’t treat hit-and-run as a serious crime.

Flee the scene, perhaps because you’ve been drinking, and you’re looking at mere months.

Remain in place to help the victim, as any decent human being would, and the sentence for impaired causing injury or death is typically far more severe — especially for those with prior impaired convictions, where five or six years is a common decision.

Whatever the reason for fleeing, police who deal with hit-and-run crimes say the consequence needs to be much sharper.

“As far as I’m concerned, for anybody who commits a hit-and-run causing death there should be a minimum sentence, and it should be quite a high sentence,” said Sgt. Colin Foster, head of Calgary’s police collision reconstruction unit.

Foster says the current system doesn’t provide enough deterrent, though he struggles to understand how anyone, impaired or otherwise, could leave someone to die.

“From my own personal experience, I’ve seen the devastation hit-and-run causes the families,” said Foster.

“Yes it’s sad when someone commits an offence and is impaired, but when a driver owns up to the mistake, that’s an easier pill to swallow than someone so callous as to flee the scene of a collision, and not care what happened to the other party.”

The motorist who killed Abdurahman did just that, driving away as the 33-year-old hospital worker and brand-new Canadian citizen lay dying near the crosswalk on Centre St. near 43 Ave N.

Robert Mark Varley, 58, was charged Wednesday with hit and run causing death, with police offering no motive for their suspect leaving the scene.

Back in 2005, when Colin Jones ran down Lindsay Giacomelli in a Willow Park crosswalk, he had admittedly been drinking, and parole documents obtained by the Sun stated Jones had a previous conviction for impaired driving.

But because police could never prove how much or whether the construction manager was drunk when he hit the 20-year-old woman, he was never charged with impaired driving.

Instead, despite evidence of Jones trying to cover up the crime and flee the country — the British expat was arrested minutes before he was due to fly back to the U.K. — the killer of Lindsay Giacomelli ended up with a sentence that lasted seven months.

“That’s pathetic — this clown gets out and his life carries on,” her father Gerry said, shortly after Jones was released on parole, and it’s impossible to disagree.

But it wasn’t a surprise, given a legal system that consistently treats hit-and-run as a minor crime.

Earlier this year, twice-convicted impaired driver Dilan Ursan was given five months for running down 25-year-old Moises Morales as he crossed Centre St. on Feb. 17, 2014.

With no way to prove Ursan had been driving drunk yet again, police couldn’t charge the killer with anything more than hit and run for vanishing from the scene of the crime for five hours, and then returning.

Despite suspicions — Crown prosecutor Brian Hadford said at the time he would have sought a three-to four-year prison term had drunkenness been proven — there was nothing they could do but pursue the lesser charge, with the ridiculously light sentence.

And so it will go, until Canada’s legal system takes hit-and-run seriously, making long stints in jail a certainty and deterrent.

Source: Calgary Sun


 

Last updated on: 2015-08-18 | Link to this post