Fined for boy's death

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m.

It was an emotional morning in Penticton's Courtroom 200 Monday, as RCMP Const. Ace Jimmy Stewart pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention after the vehicle he was driving struck and killed five-year-old James McIntosh.

The courtroom was packed with family and friends of both families, including RCMP officers and paramedics, who came to show support for those impacted by the incident.

Stewart received a $1,500 fine, along with a victim surcharge fine, but Judge J.J. Threlfall decided to leave it to the superintendent of motor vehicles to revoke his driver's licence or not. In his decision, Threlfall pointed to the difference between negligence and intent to harm.

"The distinction is an important one, because it is of the most human responses to equate the ultimate sentence with the anguish and suffering this tragedy has visited on all of those involved," Threlfall said. "There are some kinds of tragedies to which the courts are ill-equipped to respond," he added referencing another judge on a similar case.

Stewart was described in court as an officer who had received a great deal of recognition both from the community and from the RCMP for his work talking to youth about addiction and gang violence.

The court heard victim impact statements, including a written submission from James's brother Caleb and a statement read aloud by James's mother Elizabeth McIntosh. Through tears, she described James as a boy with boundless curiosity and who demonstrated leadership skills at a young age.

"Life with (James) was always a surprising challenge to keep up with him in his grand plans," she said. "His relationship with his brother was something I've never witnessed before in a sibling relationship. They were closer to twins and could not have loved each other more."

"(Caleb's) whole existence has been destabilized and shaken," Elizabeth added.

Stewart also delivered an emotional statement in court, using the barrier of the witness stand to hold himself up as he spoke.

"I have seen so much that no person could ever imagine. What I am about to do is probably the most heartbreaking thing in my entire life," Stewart said.

"I struggle daily to find the heart to keep moving forward," he added. "I often wish that God provided us with a golden ticket of life to use at any time to spare a loved one and to put yourself in his place. Brian and Elizabeth, I would have handed in my ticket that day and exchange my life for his."

Both Stewart and Brian (James’s father) are reported to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

After lawyers' submissions, Stewart and Elizabeth spoke in the courthouse hallway, and even hugged as they awaited the sentencing.

In court, Stewart broke down into tears as the a joint statement of facts between Crown and defence lawyers, was told by Crown counsel Peter Juk.

The court heard that just after 5 p.m. on Sep. 15, 2015, James and Caleb were on their way back home after a bike ride along the channel with their father. They came to the intersection at Green Mountain Road and the Channel Parkway, where James pressed the button to cross.

At that same time, Stewart, who had just gotten off work, was turning right onto the parkway at the intersection. He was driving a black Silverado he had bought just a year before, and had raised up about four inches, to a height that would have legally required an inspection and certification.

Brian looked to his left to watch for oncoming cars after the walk light turned on, and the three of them began crossing. Stewart, who was two or three vehicles from the stop line, was apparently focused on Brian and Caleb who were near the barrier in the middle of the road as he began to turn.

His lawyer Neville McDougall said Stewart didn't see James, who, at 1.19 metres tall, was in the vehicle's blind spot. Stewart drove into James, knocking him down and pinning him under the truck's tire, not hearing or understanding as witnesses yelled for him to stop.

Brian, a paramedic, rushed to his son's side, and attempted to resuscitate him, while Stewart called 911, but upon transporting James to hospital, he was pronounced dead just before 6 p.m.

Stewart was reportedly distraught during the 911 call, and witnesses said he repeated the phrase "I didn't see him, I didn't see him" at the scene.

Neither Brian nor Stewart have been able to return to work, but the RCMP is working with Stewart to ease him back in, while Elizabeth notes their family may have to move to Vancouver for work.

ORIGINAL: 11:50 a.m.

A Penticton RCMP officer who was involved in a collision in which a young boy died has been fined $1,500.

Const. Ace Jimmy Stewart pleaded guilty Monday.

He was charged with driving without due care and attention after the vehicle he was allegedly driving struck and killed James McIntosh.

McIntosh was pushing his bike through a marked crosswalk at Highway 97 and Fairview Road on Sept. 15, 2015, when he was hit. He was accompanied by his father, brother and a dog.

The province's Independent Investigations Office took charge of the investigation.

A final report was forwarded to Crown this year for consideration of charges. This occurs when the Chief Civilian Director considers that an officer may have committed an offence.

Stewart was not on duty at the time of the incident.

He was placed on administrative leave immediately after the collision.

– with files from Dustin Godfrey

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