'They take it as a joke,' says Mike Burden of Fredericton, who lost leg to drunk driver

A Fredericton man who erupted in court against the drunk driver who cost him his left leg is calling for tougher laws against drunken driving.

Michael Burden lost his leg below the knee this summer after Robert Drew Shannon drove into the motorcycle carrying Burden and his wife, Kendra. Shannon had a blood alcohol content four times the legal limit.

"The justice system in Canada has to change the laws of drinking and driving," Burden said Thursday on CBC's Maritime Noon. "Not just for me, for every person who's ever been hit on a highway or on a street or anything.

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"The laws ain't strict enough. They take it as a joke."

Dramatic day in court


GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Accident victim wants stiffer sentences for drunk drivers

Shannon pleaded guilty in September to charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The maximum sentence for impaired driving causing bodily harm is 10 years, but the Crown is seeking far less than that in Shannon's case.

At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Burden delivered several profanity-laden tirades against Shannon, both inside and outside the Fredericton courtroom.

In addition to the screaming, he threw his hat at Shannon in court.

Burden said he doesn't regret what he said or his behaviour in court.

"I was mad," he said. "They hurt my head. I don't really care what I said. I have a right to be mad and I just couldn't handle it no more. I had to say something."

Burden said he's still dealing with medical problems as a result of the crash.

"My whole life's upside down. I gotta take pills to go to bed. I gotta take pills to walk. I gotta eat pills just to eat."

A new voice


Mike and Kendra Burden with their daughter before the crash.

Not only does Burden not believe that the current punishments for drinking and driving are strong enough, he also is critical of some of the drunk-driving awareness efforts.

"I appreciate MADD," he said. "They've been around for a long time, but there needs [to be] a new voice and I want my voice to be heard.

"I want to get on a bandwagon and change the voice of MADD because nobody's listening."

Outside court Wednesday, Burden made threatening remarks about Shannon's family, saying the city wasn't big enough for the both of them.

Faults family

He criticized Shannon's family for not doing more about his alcohol problem.

"They made it a point yesterday saying that they knew he had a problem with liquor, and then cry 'poor me, boo hoo,' when he hits us."

Shannon will be back in court on Jan. 6 to be sentenced.

The Crown has asked for a prison term totalling 2 1/2 to three years for all offences Shannon committed, which include a breach of an undertaking on an unrelated charge.  

The defence suggested a jail term of 18 months to two years or a lesser prison term than what the Crown recommended.

The Crown wants Shannon barred from driving for between four and five years. The defence called for a driving ban of no more than three years.

Source: CBC News


Last updated on: 2017-01-14 | Link to this post