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Stiff sentence sought for repeat drunk driver

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Randolph Millinchuk knows just how dangerous a drunk driver can be: His mother was killed by one when he was just six years old.

But that childhood tragedy has done nothing to stop Millinchuk, now 57, from repeatedly exposing Winnipeg motorists to the same type of risks.

Millinchuk has racked up five impaired convictions dating back to 1977, the latest involving a major pileup that seriously injured three other people.

"How many more times does he need to be convicted?" Crown attorney Mitchell Lavitt asked Monday at Millinchuk's sentencing hearing.

Justice officials are now seeking a three-year prison sentence and eight-year driving ban for Millinchuk, saying he clearly isn't getting the message.

"Mr. Millinchuk has a problem, and he has to address that problem for the benefit of everyone else on the road," said Lavitt.

Millinchuk was convicted last year of driving impaired causing bodily harm for the 2010 crash on Henderson Highway. He was behind the wheel of a large camper van with a blood-alcohol reading that may have been nearly five times the legal limit, court was told. Millinchuk had just left a nearby bar when he failed to see a car stopped at a red light on Whellams Lane and drove straight into the back of it.

The force of the collision pushed the car into the vehicle stopped in front of it, which in turn crashed into the vehicle stopped in front of it. Three people in the other vehicles were taken to hospital for their injuries. One of the injured people, a firefighter, was forced to retire because of lingering back spasms.

"This was no accident," the man said Monday in a victim-impact statement. He described the intense pain, along with the financial and emotional toll the incident has taken on him. Ironically, the man had just dropped his son off at the bar that night.

"He knew not to drink and drive," said the victim. In his statement, he said his son could have "been decapitated" if he had still been in the back seat when Millinchuk smashed into him.

"I do hope you get help before someone loses a life," he said. "You took it upon yourself to ruin my life."

Millinchuk was taken to hospital for a blood sample, which showed a blood-alcohol level of .288 several hours after the accident. A lab analysis report stated that would have meant his reading at the time of the accident would have been .315 to .382.

"That's a massive amount of alcohol," Lavitt said Monday.

Witnesses had testified Millinchuk was so drunk at the scene he could not stand up, he slid out of his van "like Jell-O," couldn't keep his eyes open, smelled strongly of alcohol and slurred his speech.

The Crown said Millinchuk continues to have a "grave lack of insight" into his criminal behaviour and poses an extreme danger to reoffend. Previous impaired convictions in 1977, 1978, 1985, 1988 and 2002 all resulted in small fines, court was told.

Millinchuk denies having a serious drinking problem, despite evidence from his employer there have been incidents at work in which he's been sent home because of intoxication. The Crown said this is even more alarming, given Millinchuk drives a cement truck for a living -- a "1,000-pound missile" on the road that could have deadly consequences for anyone struck by it.

Millinchuk is seeking a short period of custody. His lawyer, Mark Wasyliw, argued Monday the injuries he caused are on the "low end" of the scale and his client has managed to stay out of trouble in the four years since the crash while out on bail.

"He's not someone who's out of control or a danger to the community," said Wasyliw. Millinchuk also told probation officials he thinks "I've figured it out" in relation to his drinking-and-driving issues.

A sentencing decision will be handed down on May 9.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2014 0

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