Diana Usak (with picture) at the sentencing hearing for Stephen Fraser Jenkins at Surrey provincial court in Surrey, BC.

Jenkins was found guilty in the death of Vanessa Udak, who was killed in a collision with Jenkins car in 2008.


The drunk driver convicted of killing 23-year-old Vanessa Usak in 2008 was sentenced to three years in prison and a lifetime ban on driving Friday in Surrey provincial court.

Judge Paul Dohm’s decision was greeted with cheers from Usak’s family and friends, who had crowded the courtroom wearing hot pink and carrying roses and balloons in the young woman’s memory.

Usak’s mother, Diana, still harboured some disappointments.

“It’s too bad he didn’t get longer,” she said. “I’d like to see him get life in prison. It would help if I thought he was sorry.”

Usak was killed in a car accident with Stephen Jenkins on July 19, 2008 near 144 Street and 108 Avenue in North Surrey, when Jenkins crossed the yellow line into oncoming traffic. The crash also seriously injured Usak’s passenger, friend Andrea Punt, leaving her with multiple broken bones, scars all over her body and a brain injury.

Both Usak and the other driver were impaired, with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit at the time they collided.

In December, Jenkins, 42, was found guilty of four counts related to the crash: impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Jenkins’ sister Tracey offered her condolences to the family.

“It’s hard. It’s the system. He should never have been given a driver’s license after his brain damage,” she said.

Usak mother said she lost her voice from constantly screaming her daughter’s name day and night.

“I have not had a kitchen table in my house because I can’t bear to see the empty chair,” she said, reading from her victim’s impact statement.

She remembered her daughter as a “polite and pretty young girl,” who loved to dance, sing and perform; adored her Pomeranian dog, Bella; worked in a non-traditional job as a longshorewoman; and who, as the middle child, was “the glue of the family.”

“You couldn’t help but love Vanessa,” said her grieving mother.

Her hands shook as she read her statement; many of those in court were sobbing.

Prosecutor Susanne Elliott had earlier asked the judge to consider Jenkins’ “horrendous” driving record as well as the “serious disregard for others” reflected in that record, in addition to a lack of remorse as an aggravating factor in the case.

Jenkins had numerous previous offences involving impairment and careless driving, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, disobeying traffic signs and speeding, as well as a string of prior driving prohibitions.

“Every drunk driver is a potential killer,” Elliott said, adding that, given his driving record, it was “just a matter of time” before he killed himself or someone else.

“The only mitigating factor,” she said, was “the absence of a criminal record.”

She asked for a prison term of four to five years and a lifetime ban on driving.

Defence lawyer Marvin Stern told court that mitigating factors include Jenkins having suffered life-altering injuries in a motor vehicle accident in 1988, which left him burned and disfigured and with significant brain injury that caused intellectual damage and impaired his memory and judgment.

That crash also resulted in a personality disorder and emotional issues that made it difficult for him to work or function normally.

Before the earlier accident, Stern told the court, Jenkins had been “a model son and student” who excelled in electrical work, graduated with honours from high school and planned to study at university to be an engineer.

“It is my respectful submission that his organic brain damage is a significant factor to consider,” Stern said.

Stern suggested a sentence of two to three years. Late in the day, he stated that Jenkins would not contest a lifetime driving ban.

Outside court, before the sentencing hearing, Jenkins refuted the version of events presented in court that led to his conviction.

“A fair outcome is I am exonerated from this because I didn’t do it. All the proof is there that I am innocent,” he said.

“Now I have to go to prison for someone else screwing up. She is the one who caused the accident — not me. Now I am paying for it.”



Source: The Province


Last updated on: 2017-02-06 | Link to this post