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Winnipeg driver who killed 2 avoids jail time for new drunk-driving charges

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A Winnipeg man who once killed two in a dangerous driving wreck has skirted going to jail after being caught driving drunk earlier this year.

Michael Dean Smith, 33, learned Wednesday he'll be fined $2,300 and must serve out 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to driving over the legal limit of .08.

Police parked at a Main Street convenience store around 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 26 spotted a Dodge Dakota which they heard racing its engine.

They watched as the truck spun sideways, travelled perpendicular to the road for a time, hit a snowbank and became briefly stuck but pulled out and kept going.

Officers then followed for a few blocks and pulled the vehicle over on Hartford Avenue. Smith was identified as the driver and he ultimately blew blood-alcohol readings of .12 and .13, Crown attorney Michael Desautels said.

Smith had been out at a Jets game the night before and had used a designated driver to get home. He went to sleep around 1 a.m.

He awoke early to go ice fishing. Believing he was no longer under the influence, he got behind the wheel of his truck and drove.

Desautels strongly urged provincial court Judge Dale Schille to send Smith to jail, citing his prior record and self-serving comments he made to a probation officer.

"This is a person who just does not take this seriously," Desautels said. "It's all about him and not about how it's affecting the community."

Conditional sentence for crash that killed 2

Smith was previously handed an 18-month conditional sentence, probation and a five-year-long driving ban in September 2005 for dangerous driving resulting in the deaths of two men in December 2001.

Albert Manitopyes, 39, died of massive injuries when his vehicle was broadsided by Smith, who ran a red light in East Kildonan. Manitopyes's roommate, Laurence Murphy, 44, was also killed.

Police suspected alcohol may have been involved, but a refusal charge was stayed without explanation at the sentencing hearing.

Smith's conditional sentence involved him going to stay at the Behavioural Health Foundation, but the plan fell apart when he was kicked out for testing positive for THC, the active constituent in marijuana.

A good chunk of his conditional term was ultimately converted into real jail.

'He knows it's wrong': lawyer

Wednesday, defence lawyer Ursula Goeres stressed that there were no injuries as a result of Smith's DUI, and there was no need to separate him from society and his passion of educating people about fishing.

Smith also spent four days behind bars waiting for a bail hearing after his most recent arrest, she said.

"He knows it's wrong to drink and drive," said Goeres.

An emotional Smith sobbed as he apologized to Schille and his family. The fatal crash he was responsible for years ago still haunts him, he said.

"Every day I live with it," Smith said. "Please have mercy on me."

Schille agreed with Desautels that Smith seems to lack appreciation for how serious his actions were and said he's really the author of his own misfortune.

Despite that, sending him to jail wasn't necessary, Schille ruled.


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