Mar 14, 2013 / 5:00 pm
A man who plead guilty to running over and killing another man has been sentenced to two years in a Federal prison. He will also receive a three-year driving ban once he is released.
Bradley James Smith, now 51 years old, was driving home after a night out when he struck and killed 23-year-old Matthew Heenan at the intersection of Ellis Street and Clement Avenue.
The court heard that Heenan had just left Flashbacks nightclub with a group of friends around 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 22, 2009. He was struck by a Chevy Equinox driven by Smith; his body thrown over 30 feet. The cause of death was determined to be head trauma.
Smith quickly turned around and drove back to the scene. Responding officers noted the smell of alcohol on his breath and over an hour later at the RCMP headquarters, Smith blew almost twice the legal limit.
Both crown counsel Frank Caputo and Smith’s defence lawyer Joe Gordon agreed on the joint sentencing submission of two years, but Caputo wanted to see a driving prohibition of between five and seven years, while Gordon argued that one year was enough.
Impact statements were read by a number of Heenan’s family members who were in court, including his mother Jo and his father Michael.
“This death is more than the death of a loved one,” read Jo Heenan, as she walked the court through the night she lost her son, and was awoken by police officers knocking at her door.
“My world, our world stopped."
“It all ended abruptly because of a stranger’s terrible choice... all that’s left is a big gaping black hole in our life.”
The family says they light a candle every night in memory of their son, surrounded by a shrine of his photos.
Michael Heenan’s impact statement detailed his difficulties following the death of his only son, as he told the court that no words could describe the feeling of awakening from your sleep to be told your child had been killed.
“My very soul was torn and my heart was ripped from my chest. Part of me died that day,” he read.
“God may forgive him. We cannot.”
Justice Brad Chapman expressed grieving sentiments to the Heenan family, before imposing his sentence, stating “parents are not expected to outlive their children,” and “no matter what I do here today, unfortunately Matthew will not be the last person killed by a drunk driver.”
Chapman then told the court that he believed Smith had conveyed remorse, but also felt a two-year sentence for this crime fell within the parameters as outlined in numerous case laws and would be an appropriate sentence.
Outside the courthouse, Michael said he was glad the accused was being held accountable for his actions, but disappointed in the length of sentence. He would like to see the offence re-classified as vehicular manslaughter along with a minimum five year mandatory sentence
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