Beaumont resident Sheri Arsenault travelled to Winnipeg, M.B., on April 21 to read her victim impact statement to Johnathon Pratt at his first parole hearing since being convicted of three counts of impaired driving causing death. At the gruelling six-hour-long hearing, Pratt was denied full and day parole by the panel. 

“Every single program that his case manager had recommended for him, if he did go, he never engaged, he never felt he should be in any programs,” Sheri said on Monday after having some time to decompress from the travel. 

“There was no admittance of having a problem, whether it was substance abuse, alcohol, and or even the violent offenders program that they put him in because of the fact that he killed three people. He feels that he doesn’t belong in jail.” 

During the hearing, Pratt wasn’t apologetic and showed no signs of remorse for his actions, Arsenault said. 

“He doesn’t have any insight to the loss of those three young men, or what it’s done to the community or the families, and to the mothers and fathers personally. He just doesn’t have any insight,” she explained. 

During the hearing, Pratt admitted that driving intoxicated at extreme speeds on Highway 625 was common — something he has done on more than 300 occasions, Arsenault said — and that the act was calming for him. 

During the trial, an expert investigator said that he would have been driving approximately 199 km/hr at the time of the accident, which Pratt clarified, saying he was actually driving 243 km/hr. 

Pratt did not admit to having a problem, and said he would ‘consider’ joining Alcoholics Anonymous if he was given full parole. 

“We always felt that he had no remorse, and this absolutely confirmed it. We’re just glad the parole board could see that, yes, you’re a risk,” Arsenault said. 

“He’s a serial speeder, he loves speed. He doesn’t really care if it’s a public road. He’s just a very selfish person and I’m glad he’s going to be in jail a little while longer.” 

While Arsenault didn’t see any signs of remorse that she was hoping for, she said the hearing still gave her some of the answers her and her family was looking for. 

“We were looking for just some signs of remorse, but the one thing we did get, we get many questions that we could only speculate about for over five years — we did get those answered, like where he was coming from and what he was doing. He remembered it, and if he does this often, well, we found out, yes, it’s almost like his past time. So we did get some questions answered which was very important for our family,” she said. 

In the mean time, the local mother has been working hard to lobby the Canadian government about toughening the laws surrounding drinking and driving. 

She said Bill 226 will likely go to a standing vote on May 3, although it will likely be defeated because of its stance on introducing a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for impaired driving causing death, with, in the case of multiple deaths, the sentence being run consecutively instead of concurrently.

Arsenault argues that having a tough on crime stance will put a higher value of loved ones lives, act as a deterrence, and ensure that the crime is treated equally in courts across the country. 

“We were looking for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, because, it is a very serious crime when death is involved. It is our country’s number one cause of criminal death. There are four to five every single day that are killed and close to 200 that are hurt every single day. Everybody knows the chances of being caught are very low — it’s a risk worth taking — and when tragedies occur, such as mine, the sentences are very lenient. It seems out current legislation still perceives these tragedies as somewhat of an accident,” she said. “I believe in this day and age, with 30 years of education, that it’s willful.”

Current legislation in the house will up the fines of being caught to $500, help to close a couple of loopholes in charging impaired drivers, and implementing random testing. The local mother isn’t sure that the random testing will hold up against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but believes that the measures are a good step forward. 

“Currently, out of all the impaired driving that causes death, I only speak on the ones that cause death, 78 per cent of impaired drivers are not ever even charged because of all the loopholes, only 22 per cent are charged. Out of that, because of loopholes, only half of that are ever actually convicted,” she said. 

Arsenault, along with the families of Kole Novak and Thaddeus Lake, have also received a lot of support from the community. 

During the hearing, Arsenault said she received many messages from the community wishing her well and wanted to thank everyone for their kind words. 

“Nobody will ever forget Brad, Kole, or Thad and that terrible tragedy that happened right there, so close to the town of Beaumont,” she said. 

“Everybody still holds that tragedy close. I honestly hope that nobody ever has to go through anything like this is.” 

Source: Beaumont News


Last updated on: 2017-05-21 | Link to this post