Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Drunk driver in tragedy pays

Newlywed lost her life; motorist gets extra jail time

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Andrea Bannish, with husband Daniel, had been married only five weeks when she was killed in November 2010 after Sean Messner ran a stop sign in Selkirk.

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Andrea Bannish, with husband Daniel, had been married only five weeks when she was killed in November 2010 after Sean Messner ran a stop sign in Selkirk.

A Manitoba drunk driver who killed a newlywed bride in a high-speed crash has been sentenced to two more years in jail.

Sean Nicholas Messner, 26, appeared Tuesday in provincial court after previously pleading guilty to impaired driving causing death in November 2010.

Andrea Bannish, 28, was killed after her 1999 Volkswagen was struck by Messner's vehicle when he drove through a stop sign at a Selkirk intersection.

Messner admits ingesting cocaine and drinking at a party hours before the crash.

A blood-alcohol reading extrapolated by an RCMP expert after the fact showed he was just over the legal limit of .08, possibly as high as .10, court was told.

Messner was driving "considerably" faster than the posted speed limit of 50 km/h when he struck Bannish's vehicle, court was told.

'He deserves a life of shame on top of whatever sentence he receives for taking such a beautiful life away'

-- husband Daniel Bannish

Following the collision, Messner left his 1999 Dodge Dakota and went door to door to seek help for Bannish. He was not injured.

Bannish was freed from her car with the Jaws of Life and pronounced dead in hospital.

She had married her longtime boyfriend only five weeks before she was killed.

The newlyweds were soon to embark on their honeymoon to the Bahamas, Judge Marvin Garfinkel was told.

Her husband had harsh words for Messner in a victim-impact statement read by Crown prosecutor Craig Savage.

"He deserves a life of shame on top of whatever sentence he receives for taking such a beautiful life away," Daniel Bannish wrote.

"He has no regard for what he's done to Andy and all of us," Bannish stated. "At this point, apologies are meaningless."

The victim's father, Karl Lajeunesse-Jungkind, spoke directly to Garfinkel, telling the judge he'll be forever haunted by the sudden loss of his daughter.

"I questioned why God would allow an innocent girl to be taken so young and with a full life still to be lived," he said. "Our world was torn apart."

Defence lawyer Martin Minuk asked Garfinkel to look at Messner's efforts to get Bannish help after the crash. "He tried the best he could. He didn't run away. He didn't leave the scene. He tried to help and get help at the time," Minuk said.

Messner was initially granted bail but was rearrested last March for violating conditions of his release. It appears he had suffered a "psychotic break" and spent months in custody on medication and under the care of forensic psychiatrists, Minuk said.

"I pleaded guilty because it was the right thing to do," Messner said. "There's no amount of words I could put together to describe how sorry I am."

The only question left for Garfinkel was how much additional penalty should be imposed. Messner was seeking one year and the Crown asked for two. Garfinkel sided with the prosecution, calling Messner's crime "an extremely serious aggravating offence."

He did note Messner's post-offence concern for his victim, but wondered why he didn't take care in the first place. "Why didn't he show that same concern before he got behind the wheel after drinking?" Garfinkel wondered.

Messner was also handed three years of supervised probation Tuesday as part of his sentence, along with a two-year driving ban that will start after his sentence ends.

Manitoba Public Insurance will automatically suspend his licence for five years, court was told.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2014 A3

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