Dec 23, 2015 - PROSECUTION WILL APPEAL SENTENCE IN EDMONTON PATIO DEATH OF TWO-YEAR-OLD BOY [Geo Mounsef]


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Crown prosecutors will ask Alberta’s highest court to increase the four-month jail sentence given to the man who drove his car through a restaurant patio and killed a two-year-old boy.

On Dec. 17, Richard Suter was sentenced for refusing to provide a breath sample in the hours after the May 2013 incident that killed Geo Mounsef. Prosecutors have now filed notice they will appeal that sentence at the Court of Appeal of Alberta.

Provincial court Judge Larry Anderson concluded Suter was not impaired when he stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake while arguing with his wife. Suter’s SUV lurched through a glass-walled patio at Ric’s Grill and slammed into the table where Geo was eating with his parents and five-month-old brother. 

When Anderson concluded Suter wasn’t impaired, he chose not to sentence him in the same range as a charge of impaired driving causing death. Anderson also decided that a Legal Aid lawyer provided Suter with “ill-informed and bad legal advice,” about whether to provide a breath sample.

The Crown’s notice of appeal states that Anderson erred when he considered the lack of intoxication and bad legal advice as mitigating factors in Suter’s sentence. At the least, the notice states, Anderson gave those factors undue weight.

“The sentence imposed was demonstrably unfit and not proportional to the gravity of the offence and moral blameworthiness of the offender,” the notice states.

George Mounsef, Geo’s father, applauded the appeal. “I’m definitely happy. Our family feels the sentence is unjust. You shouldn’t get four months for killing a child, for killing anyone. We’re struggling to have faith in the justice system, but it’s good to see the Crown is still fighting.”

Mounsef said he is particularly concerned that the four-month sentence is not enough of a deterrent for future drivers. “It’s not so much about how long Suter goes to jail. We know no sentence brings our child back.”

Suter’s defence lawyer, Dino Bottos, said it was “ridiculous” that prosecutors wouldn’t consider Suter’s lack of intoxication a mitigating factor.

“I wish the Crown and public would accept the ruling and leave Mr. Suter alone,” Bottos said.“I’m frustrated and very disappointed. You’re not going to find a more innocent offender of this section of the Criminal Code than Mr. Suter.”

 The notice of appeal only calls for “a fit sentence.” Previously, prosecutor Neil Wiberg had argued for a three-year sentence.

 Numerous witnesses said Suter slurred his words and was unsteady and glassy-eyed in the minutes after the crash, visual cues that could have been caused when he was pulled from his vehicle and assaulted by bystanders, Anderson said. Suter admitted drinking two vodkas with orange juice and part of a beer in the hours leading up to the crash.

Source: Edmonton Journal


 

Last updated on: 2015-12-28 | Link to this post