Today was the repeatedly deferred sentencing hearing for Miguel Oliveira, who hit and killed Tom Samson at Davenport and Lansdowne in November 2012. The initial sentencing hearing was last August, where the defence and defendant didn’t bother to show up, and then there was a second hearing in December when the victim impact statements were heard. The judge then needed more time to render her judgement. It was scheduled for 10 am, but there was a further delay since it was reported that the defence lawyer was stuck in traffic on the DVP. It was snowing this morning, so I left home extra early, but apparently not everyone took similar precautions. There were about a dozen members of the cycling community there in support of the family and friends.
Shortly after I took that picture, we were allowed to file back into the courtroom.
All the following is from my notes, and any mistakes or misstatements are my fault.
The judge read out a shortened version of her statement of reasons, before announcing the sentence. The defence was requesting 12-18 months, with no driving for 5-10 years. The defence wanted 60 days jail time, with credit for time served, which could have resulted in the defendant walking out of the court as a free man.
The judge noted that this case did not address the issue of causation or fault for the collision. She also noted that the simply duty of remaining at a scene of an accident is not an onerous burden, and that because the defendant left the scene, this did not allow for a full investigation by police. Note that Oliveira was driving westbound, and it appears that Tom Samson was in the left turning position, about to turn southbound on Landsdowne when he was hit from behind. The first collision threw into the path of another vehicle. The second driver stayed at the scene.
Aggravating factors cited:
- the defendant was already under a G2 licence, due to prior driving offences, including speeding at 20 km.hr over the limit, suspended license for unpaid fines.
- the amount of damage to his van implies that he had to have known that he hit a cyclist, and that he had caused bodily injury at a minimum
- family suffering was noted, but did not seem to factor into the sentence.
- the guilty plea
- the defendant did turn himself in. Note that the initial collision had been covered in the media, and the police were in the process of tracking down the van when he showed up at 11 Division, 40 hours after the collision.
- show of remorse
- no criminal record
- work history, with a letter of support from the current employer.
- no violation of current probation terms.
- a 4 month old daughter, for whom he is paying child support.
The judge seemed to rely heavily on prior case law, which in similar cases had sentences between 2-6 months of jail time.
The sentence was:
- 6 months in jail, with credit of 3 months for time served on bail and house arrest during the 3 years since the accident.
- jail time to be served on weekends
- probation for 3 years.
- 240 hours of community service
- no driving for 2 years
- has to submit a sample to the national DNA database
Here we are discussing the verdict afterwards.
There was some confusion about how much credit was given for going to jail after work on Friday, and back out on Monday morning; whether this counted as 2 or as much as 4 days. If it does count as four days, this means that the sentence is less than a year of weekends. Update: according to the CBC, somehow this translates to 15 weekends, which is less than 4 months……
At any rate, the light sentencing, based on prior case law, makes it abundantly clear that there has to be Vulnerable Road User’s Legislation, so that minimum sentencing guidelines make a hit and run at least equivalent to a DUI. Otherwise, there will continue to be a clear incentive for drivers to leave the scene of a serious accident.
The defence lawyer talks to a scrum of reporters outside the courthouse.
I see that the CBC already has an initial report posted. At least the media is following this story, and maybe that will make a difference in the long run.
Ride safe, everyone. It’s a bit slippery out there.
Update: the updated version of the CBC story makes the sentence a bit more clear:
“Sentences served on weekends involve going to jail on a Friday evening and being released on Monday morning, giving credit for four days served each weekend.
Barry said Oliveira will likely be free on probation after serving 15 weekends. That is credited as 60 days, or two-thirds of the 90 days remaining on his sentence.”
15 weekends is a sick joke.
- Star coverage.
- Globe and Mail coverage.
- Matt Galloway’s interview with Uri Samson on CBC Radio.
- Dandyhorse Blog.