Prosecutors take rural collision case to appeals court
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/10/2022 (235 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Justice officials are appealing a judge’s decision sentencing a Manitoba man to just six months in jail for an impaired driving crash that killed his 15-year-old best friend.
Kyle Nolan Devos, 22, was convicted after trial of one count each of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving in connection to the April 7, 2018, crash on a Bruxelles field.
The Crown had recommended a four-year prison sentence, but in a ruling last month, King’s Bench Justice Elliot Leven ordered that Devos serve six months in custody, plus three years probation and 200 hours of community service work, saying he could not ignore overwhelming evidence of Devos’s good character.
In documents filed with the Manitoba Court of Appeal on Oct. 12, prosecutors argued Leven “erred in principle by over-emphasizing the character of the offender as a mitigating factor” and as a result imposed an unfit sentence.
No hearing date has been set.
Court heard Devos had been drinking at a party when he got into his truck with a friend and did “doughnuts” on a frozen farm field. Devos’s friend was in the backseat and not wearing a seatbelt when the truck fishtailed and flipped over, killing him.
At a sentencing hearing last June, court was provided with 129 support letters from family members, friends and community residents attesting to Devos’s remorse, history of volunteerism and sports leadership.
“The letters make it clear that Mr. Devos is, in his very essence, a young man of kindness, empathy, integrity and generosity,” Leven said in a sentencing decision delivered Sept. 29. “It would be unfair to simply ignore these essential facts in crafting a just and proportional sentence.”
Prosecutor Jay Funke argued those same letters, as well as a pre-sentence report prepared for court, provided clear evidence of a community not willing to concede a crime had been committed.
“The harm caused by the accused was substantial, extensive and irreparable,” Funke said last June. None of the letters acknowledged that Devos was drinking and driving, and many attempted to normalize his behaviour, he said.
One writer, who described himself as a friend to the families of both Devos and the victim, said: “For reasons unknown to us, God decided he wanted (the victim) back.”
“I know very few teenage boys who have not spun their tires or cut power turns to some extent and this group was no different. Kyle Devos seems to be left holding the bag, so to speak, because he was driving,” the man said.
Funke argued the probation officer who wrote the pre-sentence report minimized Devos’s actions as well, describing the incident as an accident and adopting the family’s position that the community and victim’s family had forgiven him.
“Accidents are not intentional,” the probation officer wrote. “Mr. Devos did not anticipate or plan this tragic outcome.”
No one sets out to kill someone when they drive impaired, Funke said.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.