A young offender from the Southwest was sentenced to six months in open custody and was prohibited for driving for three years during sentencing at the Swift Current Court House on Friday morning.
The youth had earlier pled guilty in the death of three Southwest teens during a March 28 collision outside the community of Kincaid.
The youth, who can not be identified because he was a young offender at the time of the incident, was handed his sentence during a lengthy judgement by Judge Les Matsalla during Friday’s court sentencing.
The fatal crash caused the deaths of 16 year old Jaycena Mann and Laramie Ross, both of Gravelbourg, and 14 year old Brooke Harbor of Kincaid.
Judge Matsalla had delayed sentencing from earlier in the week in order to reach his decision. In a 25-page ruling, Judge Matsalla commented “By operating his truck as he did, he committed a very serious offence the effect of which has caused incalculable grief to the family and friends of the victims,” the ruling stated. The ruling also notes “he made a conscious decision to ignore the solid line and he undertook to perform a very unusual and very risky manoeuvre by attempting to pass not one but three cars at high speed.”
Judge Matsalla’s ruling imposed a harsher penalty from the joint submission presented to the court that the youth service a deferred custody and supervision order.
“After reviewing the Act and the cases that have considered the principles upon which the Act is based, a six month defered custody and supervision order would not be a fit sentence in the circumstances of this case. Any meaningful sanction must hold (the youth) accountable,” the ruling noted.
“We’re pleased that the judge found it unacceptable, the joint submission for six months house arrest. In my opinion that would have been no more than merely grounding him,” explained Leanne Mann, mother of Jaycena.
“If our family could trade places with them and have our daughter brought home to us in six months, we definitely would,” she said.
“I understand what its like to have your child taken from you and you have no control over it. I do sympathize with them, but at least I’m pleased that something more was sent here as a message to reckless and dangerous individuals who don’t think about their actions, that it won’t be taken lightly.”
“Hopefully this will teach people like him to stop killing senselessly,” said said Elena Ross who lost daughter Laramie in the accident.
She felt the penalty was not harsh enough.
“I don’t think so. For what he has done to us, stealing my child from me, no. I don’t think I will be satisfied with anything because what he took from me he can never return to us.”
Senior Crown Prosecutor Steve Kritzer explained that the youth was to be transferred to a facility in Regina for an assessment, after which he would be place in one of the open custody facilities in the province.
“An open custody facility is a jail facility within the definition of the Youth Criminal Justice Act,” he explained.
“Open custody is more institutional, like a dormitory settings or house settings, but there are significant restrictions places upon the person and his movement.”
“After he serves his six months, he will serve three months on a community supervision order, conditions will be placed by the custodial facility before he leaves that facility. After that he’s been placed on a one year probation order, and he’ll be monitored by a Probation Officer. And as well he will have the driving prohibition to live under.”
Kritzer admitted the emotional nature of the case provided a challenge as prosecutor.
“This is a very difficult case to prosecute from the crown’s perspective. I’m a father. I cannot imagine the loss that these families have suffered, and yet you have to deal with the matter in a professional manner, making sure that the young person is held accountable for the actions that he took.”
He said it was not unusual for the court to take additional time to decide the matter.
“I think, as you can all probably appreciate, where you have an incident where three people are killed, three young people, it’s a difficult matter to deal with in terms of sentencing. All parties will have a difficult time in concluding what is an appropriate sentence in this matter. We’re content with the court, took the time it needed to and used all of the resources that it had at it’s disposal to come to an appropriate sentence.”