The family of a Cochrane teen killed by a drunk driver is unhappy with a likely two-year sentence for a Calgarian who pleaded guilty to the crime Monday.

Ryan Jordan Gibson, 23, pleaded guilty to driving over .08 causing bodily harm and a similar charge causing death in the fatal collision Dec. 6, 2012 that took the life of Brandon Thomas.

Four other charges are being withdrawn surrounding the incident 8 km south of Cochrane in which police say Gibson was driving more than two times over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

In heading off a preliminary hearing and possible trial, the Crown and defence also agreed to a sentence of two years — a penalty that Thomas’s mother Kim called outrageous.

“That is a slap in the face and is no value to Brandon’s life,” said an emotional Thomas.

“Brandon needs more than that ... I wanted to fight for Brandon, I wish we would have had a chance to go to trial.”

She was joined in the courtroom by about two dozen family members and supporters, some of whom wore clothing memorializing the 17-year-old Thomas and condemning impaired driving.

In a joint statement of facts, Crown prosecutor Ron Simenik said Gibson had been with friends at a Cochrane residence before deciding to drive back to his southwest Calgary home.

After using the northbound lane of Hwy. 22 to pass two trucks, Gibson remained in the wrong lane and soon forced two vehicles off the road, injuring a 23-year-old woman.

Moments later, he crashed his 2006 Chevy pickup head-on into Thomas’s Subaru Impreza.

Simenik said there was nothing the courts could do to banish the Thomas family’s grief, but added the guilty plea does have value.

“There’s a certainty of conviction, it played a large role in my decision,” he said.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner said his client had no criminal record and instantly regretted his actions.

“I think he’s extremely remorseful ... that remorse is more reflective in the guilty plea,” said Hepner.

But Thomas said a two-year sentence would send the wrong message on drunk driving.

“They’re telling guilty people it’s okay to drink and drive, to kill innocent people,” said Thomas, who’s lobbying for a mandatory minimum of five years for such crimes.

Gibson remains free but can only travel within Alberta and B.C.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 16.

Source: The Calgary Sun


Last updated on: 2014-01-06 | Link to this post