The man who received four months in jail after he drove his car through a restaurant patio and killed a toddler has filed an appeal of his “excessive” sentence.

On Dec. 17, Richard Suter was sentenced for refusing to provide a breath sample in the hours after the May 2013 incident that killed two-year-old Geo Mounsef. In addition to his jail sentence, Suter was suspended from driving for 30 months.

In his notice of appeal, the 65-year-old Suter asked the Court of Appeal of Alberta to reduce his sentence to a $2,000 fine, probation and a one-year driving suspension.

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 in south Edmonton 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.

Suter’s appeal states that Anderson’s sentence was “excessive, demonstrably unfit” and not proportional to Suter’s responsibility in Geo Mounsef’s death.

“The learned sentencing judge erred by failing to give adequate weight to the sentencing principle of restraint,” the appeal reads.

The document also states Anderson shouldn’t have placed the onus on Suter to prove he was not impaired that day in order to lessen his sentence from the same range as impaired driving causing death.

Defence lawyer Dino Bottos, who filed the appeal, said he doesn’t believe Suter will seek bail while waiting for his appeal to be heard. 

The day Suter was sentenced, Bottos said his client was “content” with the result and “vindicated” by Anderson’s conclusion he was not impaired.

Geo’s father, George Mounsef, was not expecting the appeal. “I’m surprised that Suter would file an appeal, because the outcome was so favourable for him.”

The prosecution had argued for a three-year sentence. Days after Suter was sentenced, the Crown filed an appeal of their own and claimed the four-month sentence was too light.

The Crown’s notice of appeal states that Anderson mistakenly considered the lack of intoxication and bad legal advice as mitigating factors in Suter‘s 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.

A date to hear the appeals has not been scheduled.

Source: Edmonton Journal


Last updated on: 2016-01-30 | Link to this post