In what is believed to be a first in Canada, a West Island man has been convicted of impaired driving causing death and injury because he combined medication with alcohol before striking an elderly Dollard-des-Ormeaux couple with his car.

Yvan Grandmaison’s face registered no reaction as Quebec Court Judge Marie-Josée Di Lallo found him guilty of impaired driving causing the death of Ngnan Wong Yee, 73, a long-time resident of D.D.O. Di Lallo also found Grandmaison, 41, guilty of impaired driving causing bodily harm to Wong Yee’s husband, Shui Poon Hui, 72, who was severely injured when the two were struck from behind while they walked near their home along Ceres St. on Feb. 21, 2012.

It is believed to be the first time in Canada that someone is convicted of impaired driving causing death in a trial based, in part, on evidence provided by a drug recognition expert. Such police experts are trained to determine whether a person might have been high when they injured or killed someone while driving.

Changes to the Criminal Code that took effect in 2009 prompted several police forces to have such an expert readily available for impaired driving investigations. Changes to the law opened the door to drivers being charged if they are found to have been high on drugs while driving. Previously, drivers could only be charged for driving while drunk.

In the hours before the collision, Grandmaison consumed at least five beers, a small amount of cocaine and took two powerful sleeping pills prescribed to him for the first time that same day. The doctor who prescribed the medication told Grandmaison to take only one on the first day. Grandmaison was suffering from anxiety — his mother had lung cancer — and had not slept for three days before asking his doctor to change his medication.

In the early afternoon, Grandmaison drank two beers and consumed a quarter-gram of cocaine. In the evening, he drank three more beers and popped two of his new sleeping pills despite a clear warning on the pill bottle to not mix the medication with alcohol. Minutes later, Grandmaison’s mother asked him to buy her some lottery tickets. He could have walked to a nearby dépanneur but chose to drive to one further away because they carried his favourite beer, Alberta’s Best.

As he returned home with the lottery tickets and a six pack, Grandmaison’s car struck the elderly couple. Grandmaison did not brake before the collision. Hui suffered a head injury and remains in a long-term-care hospital today. His wife died shortly after the impact. Grandmaison tested below the legal blood-alcohol level, but a urine test revealed the presence of cocaine and the drug in the sleeping pills.

“That night, he made the wrong decision to drive his car,” Di Lallo said near the end of her decision. She said the Crown proved that what Grandmaison consumed that day had “more than a minor effect” on how Grandmaison handled his car.

Prosecutor Dennis Galiatsatos said the couple’s relatives went through “several ups and downs” as the case progressed. Many, including the victims’ son and nephew, were at the courthouse on Tuesday. They made no comment as they left.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 29. Galiatsatos would not estimate how much time he will seek. “But I can tell you, provisionally, the Crown will be asking for a very long federal penitentiary sentence,” Galiatsatos said. “That is a given.”

Accused Grandmaison defends impaired driving charges

Source: The Montreal Gazette


Last updated on: 2013-03-30 | Link to this post