December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
REQUESTS for suspended sentences for drivers convicted of fatal dangerous driving charges were shot down Friday in two separate Manitoba cases.
The rulings are a blow for defence lawyers, who are no longer able to ask judges for conditional sentences in cases of dangerous driving causing death. Conditional sentences allow offenders to serve sentences at home under strict conditions.
Many defence lawyers view suspended sentences with restrictive probation conditions as a worthy substitute for conditional terms. Any breaches can result in a judge hauling an offender back to court to impose a new sentence.
But probation is meant to rehabilitate and not discipline people, provincial court Judge Fred Sandhu told Michael Teichroeb, 30.
"Probation is not punishment," Sandhu said. "It must never be used or seen or thought of as punishment," said Sandhu.
A remorseful, at-times tearful and shaken Teichroeb was instead handed nine months in jail for dangerous driving causing the death of his friend, Mike Tanner, on Highway 59 on the night of Feb. 13. Tanner, 21, died in hospital about two weeks later.
Teichroeb, Tanner and another man were driving to a party in Teichroeb's BMW when he gave into pressure to show off what the car could do, court heard at a sentencing hearing.
Teichroeb sped up to about 140 km/h in the 100 km/h zone but had to swerve to miss a slower-moving car. He had turned his head away from the road momentarily.
The vehicle skidded on the clear and dry pavement and rolled several times before coming to a rest in the ditch, Sandhu was told. There was insufficient evidence to prove he was impaired. Sandhu also imposed a $2,000 fine on Teichroeb for refusing to submit a breath sample.
Also Friday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Kenneth Hanssen declined to give Patricia Harry, 26, a suspended sentence. Hanssen sent her to jail for 18 months.
Harry had pleaded guilty to counts of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm in connection to the death of her brother, Gerald Harry, and serious wounding of a friend near Little Black River First Nation June 19, 2009.
Harry was speeding on a gravel road when she hit a school bus parked on the highway. She was going 92 to 96 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, Hanssen said. As well, Harry had alcohol in her system.
Her lawyer, Michelle Bright, battled for a suspended sentence, while the Crown sought up to three years in prison.
Just as Sandhu did in Teichroeb's case, Hanssen said he didn't believe a long jail term would do anything for the mother of three's rehabilitation. But, he ruled, a probationary punishment wasn't sufficient given her level of responsibility and the seriousness of what happened.
"You voluntarily assumed the risk of driving at a high rate of speed after having consumed alcohol," said Hanssen. "This was not a momentary lapse of judgment."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 28, 2013 A3