The tragic case of an Edmonton man who killed a young boy when he drove into a restaurant patio is now in a judge's hands following closing arguments on Friday.

The Crown argued for Richard Suter, 65, to get a three-year prison term while the defence suggested either a fine and probation or up to 90 days in jail on weekends.

A sentencing decision is scheduled for Dec. 17.

Suter earlier pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample where death ensued, stemming from a May 19, 2013, collision at Ric's Grill, 23 Avenue and Rabbit Hill Road, that took the life of two-year-old Geo Mounsef.

A five-day sentencing hearing in a packed, standing-room-only courtroom was full of sadness, anger and drama with numerous victim impact statements being tearfully read out and polarizing testimony from Suter and his wife.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg argued that a prison term of four to six years was appropriate, but said it should be reduced to three years due to mitigating factors.

Wiberg told court the Crown's position is that Suter was "impaired" at the time of the deadly crash or, at the minimum, his alcohol level "contributed" to what happened.

He argued all of the witnesses at the scene believed Suter was impaired due to his stumbling around, glossy eyes, problems speaking and the smell of booze on his breath.

Wiberg also noted it took two attempts by his wife to get him to realize that his SUV was moving forward before he mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake.

"That is consistent with an impaired driver," he said.

The prosecutor accused Suter of giving evidence that was "self-serving" and said the senior had "minimized" his prior involvement with alcohol during his testimony.

He also questioned why Suter had not "begged" to provide a breath sample as he claims he was not drunk and testified he had two shots of vodka in the afternoon and a pint of beer about an hour before the 7:37 p.m. crash.

Wiberg called Suter's wife Gayska a "partisan" witness who went beyond questions with her answers during testimony in an effort to "exonerate" her husband.

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos argued that the evidence shows the cause of the crash was not due to impairment, but an accident caused by "inattention and distraction."

Bottos also told the judge it was mitigating that Suter was given "bad legal advice" regarding providing a breath sample, he has no prior criminal record and he has shown "true and immediate remorse."

As well, he argued the case has led to Suter suffering "public condemnation" based on inaccurate information and he was subjected to "vilification" and "scorn, hatred and vitriol" during a two-year-long Facebook campaign.

Bottos also spoke of Suter being slapped, kicked and dragged across the pavement after the crash and the fact he had his thumb chopped off when he was abducted from his home in January by men posing as cops.

According to agreed facts, Suter's Acura SUV went over the curb, through a glass barrier and into the table where Geo was sitting with his parents and baby brother, pinning the victim against the outer wall of the restaurant and then trapping him underneath.

Source: Edmonton Sun


Last updated on: 2015-10-30 | Link to this post