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This article was published 11/10/2018 (591 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Lorette teen who drove drunk after a house party and caused a crash that killed his friend will spend time in custody, while the victim's family continues to grieve for their son and brother.
"He is a better person now than he was then," provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs said of the now-19-year-old accused as he imposed a four-month sentence meant to keep the teen out of an adult correctional institution.
The man, who is approaching his 20th birthday, began serving 80 days in open custody Thursday, to be followed by 40 days of community supervision. He previously pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death for the Oct. 16, 2016 crash that happened on Highway 207 near Lorette when both the driver and his sole passenger were 17 years old.
The judge decided on a sentence in the range of four to six months, but he said imposing more time in custody would mean, under the law, the accused would have to be transferred to an adult jail when he turns 20 early next year.
Neither teen can be identified because of a publication ban imposed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
"Given how well (the accused) has done in the community in the last two years, there is a greater likelihood that serving any time in an adult jail would hinder that rehabilitation," the judge said.
Crown prosecutor Jennifer Comack sought an 18-month youth sentence, while defence lawyer Richard Wolson asked for probation and no jail time.
The teen's blood-alcohol level was measured after the crash at .097. As an underage teen and a novice driver, he was not legally allowed to drink or have any alcohol in his system while driving.
The teen's friends had asked him to give up his keys as they were leaving a house party in Dufresne — about 11 kilometres from Lorette — but he insisted he was fine to drive. His 17-year-old friend got into the passenger seat of the Subaru he was driving and other friends drove ahead of them in another vehicle. The accused lost control of his vehicle while trying to pass his friend's vehicle westbound on Highway 207. The vehicle rolled, killing the passenger.
The Crown's request for a harsher sentence "would not be out of line," if not for the "tremendous" steps the accused has taken since the crash, Heinrichs said, noting the teen has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, going to church, volunteering at Siloam Mission and coaching football since he graduated from high school.
"Except for his decision to drive that night in October two years ago, it would appear that he had been a typical teenager and is now a fine young adult," Heinrichs said.
"There is a clear acknowledgement of the harm he has done to (the victim), his family and friends and the surrounding community. And yet, drinking alcohol and then driving while under the influence is such an enormous blight on our society that, in all likelihood, every one of us in this courtroom today knows someone who's been injured or killed by a drunk driver."
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.
Updated on Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 8:55 PM CDT: Updates headline