The man who refused to provide a breath sample after he drove his SUV through a restaurant patio and killed a toddler should serve three years in prison, court heard Friday.

Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg said Richard Suter’s testimony at his own sentencing hearing was “self-serving” and the court shouldn’t doubt that his impairment caused the death of two-year-old Geo Mounsef in May 2013.

“There was not one witness that testified he was sober,” Wiberg said. “Were he sober, he would’ve been begging to take a breathalyzer to prove his innocence.”

Suter pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample after a fatal crash, a charge that carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. He admitted drinking two vodkas with orange juice and a portion of a beer in the hours leading up to the crash.

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos told court there is no evidence Suter was impaired that evening. He said no jail time is necessary and that a fine and probation is an appropriate punishment.

Outside court, grieving mother Sage Morin said a fine would be “absolutely ridiculous” and an insult to her son’s life.

Suter testified that he was distracted by an argument with his wife and accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake as he approached the patio.

Witnesses said Suter was unsteady, glossy-eyed and slurred his words. Suter’s physical state was due to a decades-old leg injury and being dragged from his vehicle and assaulted in the “pandemonium” after the crash, his lawyer said.

Bottos argued that witnesses assumed Suter was drunk without proof. “They were already calling him a drunk driver before he’d even opened the door to his vehicle. If you’ve been slapped around and pushed down, and you’re not in robust health, you might have a hard time standing up.”

Suter told court he refused to provide a breath sample because a legal aid lawyer instructed him not to over the phone. That lawyer told court he did not instruct Suter to refuse a breath sample, but led him to that conclusion.

If a jail sentence is ordered, Bottos said, Suter should be allowed to serve his time on weekends. Bottos said Suter’s life would be in danger in prison because of numerous threats posted against him on social media.

On the night of Jan. 27, 2015, three masked men posing as police officers abducted Suter from his home and cut off his thumb, which has never been recovered. The masked men told him the abduction was a direct result of Geo Mounsef’s death. One man has been charged in that incident.

Wiberg and Bottos agreed the attack on Suter should lead to a reduction in his sentence.

Suter is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 17.

Source: Edmonton Journal


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