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Drunk driver gets two more years for death of newly wed woman

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A drunk driver who killed a newly wed woman in a high-speed crash has been sentenced to two more years in jail.

Sean Nicholas Messner, 26, appeared today in a Selkirk court after pleading guilty to impaired driving causing death. Andrea Bannish, 28, was killed in November 2010 after her 1999 Volkswagen was struck at a Selkirk intersection.

Messner admits doing cocaine and drinking at a house party in the hours preceding the deadly crash. A blood-alcohol reading taken after the collision shows he was just over the legal limit of .08, possibly as high as .10, court was told.

Messner was driving "considerably" faster than the post speed limit of 50 km/h when he blew through a stop sign and struck Bannish’s vehicle, court was told.

Following the collision, Messner exited his 1999 Dodge Dakota and went door to door to seek help. He was not injured. Bannish was pulled out of her car with the jaws of life and pronounced dead at the hospital.

Messner was initially granted bail, only to be re-arrested last March for violating conditions of his release. Today, provincial court Judge Marvin Garfinkel agreed with a joint-recommendation from lawyers that Messner should be given single-time credit of one year for that pre-trial custody.

The only question left for Garfinkel was how much additional penalty should be imposed. Messner was seeking just one year, while the Crown asked for two. Garfinkel sided with the prosecution.

Bannish had married her longtime boyfriend, Daniel Bannish, only five weeks before she was killed.

"She was such a caring person. She had so many friends, and if you weren't friends with her, you wanted to be friends with her," her good friend, Rachelle Northwood, previously told the Free Press. "I'm in shock about it. Drinking and driving is so pointless."

Several family members made victim impact statements in court today.

Messner was also placed on three years of supervised probation as part of his sentence. The order includes a ban on consuming any alcohol. He was also given a two-year driving ban by the judge, but Manitoba Public Insurance will automatically suspend his licence for five years, court was told.

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