A Winnipeg woman awaits her jail sentence for a drunk-driving rollover that killed her 20-year-old friend on Henderson Highway nearly four years ago.
James Hayes was a backseat passenger in the Honda Civic 19-year-old Kendra Stuart was driving Oct. 5, 2013, when she sped along the road — reaching speeds more than 100 kilometres an hour in a 70 km/h zone. Stuart missed a curve in the road and drove toward the ditch, hitting a driveway entrance that vaulted the car into the air and caused a rollover.
Hayes died at the scene, and Stuart was convicted last spring after a trial for dangerous driving and impaired driving causing death.
The Crown is seeking a five-year sentence, while Stuart's defence lawyer argued Monday she should serve two years in prison.
Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Candace Grammond reserved her decision until April. In the meantime, Stuart remains on bail.
The now-23-year-old spoke to the victim's family for the first time since the lengthy court process began, after she listened to them read victim-impact statements in court.
Tim Hayes, James' father, told Stuart the family could never forgive her. James' mother, Dianna Hayes, said they didn't get to say goodbye to their 20-year-old son.
"Because of you, our son died in the most horrific way," she told Stuart. "You can spend the rest of your life looking in the mirror."
When it was her turn to speak, Stuart said she looks at herself with disgust every day, and would go back in time to reverse her decision to get behind the wheel that night.
"All I can do is try every day for the rest of my life to make sure nobody gets behind the wheel impaired. The ultimate goal after all of this is, have I learned my lesson? And the truth is I have," she said, saying she wants to make a difference in life for her friend.
"Jimmy was and always will be one of the most amazing and special individuals that I had the pleasure to have met, and I miss him so much every single day," Stuart said.
James Hayes was one of two passengers in the vehicle that night, and neither were wearing seat belts. Crown attorney Peter Edgett argued Stuart tried to mislead police by lying and telling an officer at the scene of the crash she had swerved to avoid an animal on the road. She was a new driver and was not allowed to drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
As part of her sentence, the Crown is asking for a 7 1/2-year driving prohibition.
Defence lawyer Bruce Bonney said Stuart is scared to drive and hasn't since that night.
On Monday, the court heard Hayes was a devoted son, brother and uncle who loved sports and never got a chance to parent his daughter, who was born four months after he died.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.