Victim’s family jeers at hit-and-run driver

A driver who killed a motorcyclist in a hit-and-run received a sentence of one year in jail but no sympathy from the victim’s family on Tuesday.

“Bye-bye, enjoy your stay,” the dead man’s brother said outside the courtroom as a police officer led Gordon Davis, the driver, away in handcuffs. A group of about a dozen supporters of the victim, Claude Dorion, clapped, applauding Davis’ incarceration.

“I’m pleased with the sentence. It will honestly never be enough,” Tina Lapensée, Dorion’s niece, said outside the courtroom. She was echoed by Peter, Dorion’s brother. “No amount of sentence would be enough for me. I’d rather have my brother here with me,” he said.

On April 16, 2009, around 5:25 a.m., Dorion was on his motorcycle driving westbound on Richmond Road on his way to his job as a scale operator at the Trail Road landfill. Davis, driving eastbound along Richmond in his Buick Century, turned left onto Woodroffe Avenue right in front of Davis, hitting him and knocking him from his bike. Davis said that he did not see Dorion. He was driving with an expired license and did not have insurance.

Davis fled the scene, continuing northbound on Richmond Road. Dorion died in hospital four hours later. After an appeal for information on his whereabouts was made to the public, Davis turned himself in to police 12 hours after the accident.

In her judgment, Ontario Court Judge Ann Alder repeatedly highlighted the fact that Davis was being held criminally responsible not for having killed Dorion but for having fled the scene of the accident. Yet she ruled out a conditional sentence (a sentence that can be served in the community). “There must be a message that this is a serious event,” she said.

During the trial, Crown prosecutor Robert Wadden had asked for a sentence of 12 to 15 months in jail, while defence counsel, Peter Beach, had asked for nine to 12 months of community service or three to six months of jail time.

In addition to sentencing him to one year of jail, Alder imposed three years of driving probation. She took into consideration that Davis had admitted his error, pleading guilty to the charges against him, which included failing to remain at the scene of the crash and making an unsafe turn, and that he had expressed remorse and taken responsibility for his actions.

Davis apologized to the victim’s family. Friends sent in 12 letters of reference describing him as honest, polite, loyal, and “a good friend.” Since his arrest, he has been compliant with authorities and has abstained from social activities as a self-imposed restriction.

However, Alder grimly noted that Davis had a criminal record consisting of two previous offences that both had to do with driving: a drunk driving conviction in 2000 and a case of driving after having his license revoked in 2001. “Driving is a privilege and with it come duties and responsibilities,” Alder said. The requirement not to leave the scene of the accident “is not an onerous duty,” she said. “It is easy to comply with.”

Members of Dorion’s family sobbed as Alder mentioned that he had been described as a “leader” and “pillar” of the family. When the sentencing was over, Dorion’s supporters waited to have the satisfaction of seeing Davis be escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs. “Somebody respectable does not leave someone on the road to die,” Rose, Dorion’s sister, cried out at him.

But Davis had a large number of supporters present as well. They filled the left half of the courtroom, yet remained silent.

 

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