Calling his actions “unconscionable,” the province’s highest court has upped the sentence handed down last year to an impaired driver who killed one person and seriously injured two others.

Maninderpal (also identified as Maninder Pal) Kang received a 2½-year sentence after being convicted in January 2014 by Queen’s Bench Justice Catherine Dawson of a range of offences related to a June 2007 crash.

A decision, released Tuesday by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, increases Kang’s sentence to 4½ years.

“It is clear that impaired driving causing death will rarely, if ever, attract a sentence of less than 30 months,” wrote Justice Peter Whitmore in the court’s 24-page decision ­— one made unanimous by Justices Gary Lane and Neal Caldwell.

The court determined the 2½-year term was “demonstrably unfit,” with too much emphasis placed on Kang’s efforts to turn his life around and not enough on denunciation and deterrence — meaning the judge failed to impose a sentence “that reflected the seriousness of (Kang’s) actions.”

Kang, then 18, rear-ended a semi stopped for a red light on Victoria Avenue at the intersection of Fleet Street in the early morning hours of June 25, 2007. Court heard Kang had been speeding in the moments before the crash, and that he drove away afterward with his seriously injured passengers. He stopped soon after and called 9-1-1, but told the operator his car had been stolen.

Sukhminder Singh Khuber — known to his loved ones by the nickname Lucky — died in hospital while two teenage girls survived but suffered serious head injuries.

Kang took the case to trial but was found guilty of impaired driving causing death, two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, and one count each of leaving the scene and refusing to provide a breath sample.

The Crown subsequently argued for a seven-year prison term but Dawson imposed a sentence closer to the defence request, handing down 30 months plus a three-year driving prohibition and a $1,000 fine for the refusal.

In asking leave to appeal, the Crown ­— represented in May for the purposes of appeal by Dean Sinclair — renewed its call for a seven-year term, pointing to the province’s appalling impaired driving statistics in requesting a harsher sentence for Kang.

Sinclair argued the sentence was not proportionate to the gravity of the offence or Kang’s degree of responsibility, adding it was not on par with similar Canadian cases where far lengthier terms were imposed. Sinclair had further argued the sentencing judge focused too much on Kang’s youth and lack of previous record and not enough on aggravating factors such as Kang’s troubling provincial driving record.

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Bob Hrycan urged the court to leave the sentence as imposed, arguing it was in line with other Saskatchewan sentences.

The court found the trial judge had erred in deciding certain factors were mitigating, such as the lack of evidence of severe impairment and the fact Kang didn’t go far before stopping and calling 9-1-1. Whitmore wrote that Kang shouldn’t be credited for refusing to provide a breath sample — the reason there was no evidence of the level of his impairment — or driving just seven minutes before calling for help, since he was still guilty of leaving the scene. The court also found the contents of the 9-1-1 call could not be seen as mitigating because of the “self-serving lies” Kang told the operator and, later, the police.

“When one considers the serious consequences of his horrendous driving, his attempts to avoid liability and callous disregard for his passenger’s health, and the principles of denunciation and deterrence, a 4.5-year sentence is appropriate and does not offend the principle of totality ...,” Whitmore wrote.

“One victim died and two others suffered serious and lasting injuries. The respondent’s conduct in fleeing from the scene of the accident to avoid criminal liability, rather than showing concern for his injured passengers, is sufficiently appalling to bring the appropriate sentence closer to the higher end of the range of sentences referred to (in the decision).”

Source: Leader Post


Last updated on: 2015-09-12 | Link to this post