WATCH: The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments on Richard Suter's sentence. He's the man who drove his SUV into a patio, killing a young boy. Kendra Slugoski has reaction from the boy's family.

A man who was abducted and had his thumb cut off after crashing his SUV onto a southwest Edmonton restaurant patio, killing a toddler, has been granted the right to have his appeal heard by Canada’s top court.

The Supreme Court of Canada said Thursday it will hear Richard Suter‘s appeal of his 26-month sentence. Suter and his lawyer, Dino Bottos, now have to file the actual appeal and wait for a hearing.

In December 2015, Suter was sentenced to four months in jail and a 30-month driving suspension after he pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample after a collision causing death.

The judge ruled that witnesses wrongly assumed that Suter was drunk after his vehicle plowed into the southwest Edmonton restaurant patio in May 2013.

Suter’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, said Thursday morning he had not yet had a chance to speak with his client. However, Bottos said Suter’s wife was “speechless with gratitude” when she heard the news.

Suter’s case was the only one granted out of 25 that had been seeking leave to appeal. Bottos said it is rare to be granted a leave of appeal in a sentence case and he’s grateful for the opportunity to go before the country’s highest court.

“It’s so rare to get a leave to appeal in a sentence case that you think you have won the lottery, but in fact we haven’t won anything yet. What we have to do now is convince the majority of the Supreme Court that Mr. Suter was punished too harshly by the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Bottos said this will be precedent setting “because it will be the first time that the Supreme Court pronounces on what a fitting proper sentence is for failing to provide a breath sample after having caused death.”

“There is a lot to be decided,” Bottos said. “This is a new law, which is refusal to provide a breath sample after having caused a death. The law has been on the books for only a few years and there’s only been a few courts deciding it… I think they’re going to take their time and create some very helpful new law in the area.”

Bottos said his next steps will be to prepare the argument for the Supreme Court of Canada. Once the Crown does the same, a date will be set for the hearing.

Bottos said he is optimistic Suter’s sentence will be reduced to the original four-month sentence.

“I’m hoping that the arc of this case finally ends with the Supreme Court upholding the original sentence…This is going to be the end and final chapter in this case.”

Bottos said Suter will seek bail pending appeal but that won’t happen for another few weeks. He said he will leave it up to Suter to decide when that happens. 

Geo’s mother, Sage Morin, took to Facebook Thursday to react to the news. She said she has fought and will continue to fight to keep her son’s memory alive.

“At times like this, when accountability continues to be dodged at all costs, it becomes even more important to keep love and light in our hearts in Geo’s honour,” she wrote.

“As Richard Suter continues to drag on this legal battle, it’s easy to feel sorry for myself. As he appeals his 26-month sentence, I can’t help but wish there was an appeal process for my life sentence. At times like this, I have to remind myself to live a life of love and light, the life Geo wants me to live. It’s so easy to let the exhaustion, pain, hatred and bitterness take hold and poison my heart and mind, but the bonded love I share with Geo is more powerful.”

Morin said she will continue to let love be the driving force as she prepares for the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We will let that love power our prayers for Richard Suter, as we pray for him to understand the aftermath of his actions, to understand the pain and hurt he continues to cause, we pray that he acknowledges and rectifies the errors he has made. We pray because we know there will come a Judgment Day in the eyes of our Creator for which there is no appeal process. They will hear my son’s story in the highest court of Canada, and they will remember his name. Geo Lincoln Cruz Mounsef.”

At his sentencing, Suter said he had consumed three drinks over the four hours before the crash, but was not drunk. He said on May 19, 2013 he had been arguing with his wife about a divorce and mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brakes of his SUV.

The vehicle lurched forward into the patio at the former Ric’s Grill near Rabbit Hill Road and 23 Avenue in the Terwillegar area. Geo Mounsef, who was two, was having dinner with his parents and baby brother when the SUV pinned him against a wall.

Crash at southwest Edmonton restaurant patio Sunday, May19, 2013

In January 2015, Suter was abducted from his home by three masked men and had a thumb cut off. He was then left in a field on the outskirts of southwest Edmonton.

Suter appealed the sentence in January 2016, arguing he should not be in jail or face such a long driving suspension. The Crown, which had initially recommended a three-year prison term, also filed an appeal, seeking a harsher sentence.

In August, the Crown’s appeal was allowed and Suter was slapped with a 26-month sentence, while his driving ban remaining unchanged.

In October, Suter’s lawyer appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court gave no reasons for deciding to hear the appeal.

Source: Global News


Last updated on: 2017-01-26 | Link to this post