Fate of truck driver in Humboldt bus crash will test sentencing system: experts

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu admitted he caused the collision that killed 16 people and injured 13

A legal expert says the punishment for the truck driver responsible for the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash will put Canada’s sentencing provisions to the test.

Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said she believes it will be difficult for a judge to arrive at a proportionate sentence for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.

“It’s a real test of our sentencing regime,” said Quaid. “This is sort of the nightmare scenario where you have a mixture of … factors that point in different directions if you look at our sentencing law.”

Sidhu admitted he caused the collision that killed 16 people and injured 13 when he barrelled through a stop sign in his transport truck at a rural Saskatchewan intersection last April. Sidhu was not hurt.

He pleaded guilty to 29 dangerous driving charges and is to be sentenced March 22.

In a sentencing hearing this week, the Crown argued Sidhu should serve 10 years in prison and be banned from driving for 10 years. The defence, although citing cases with shorter sentences, did not propose a specific alternative.

Judge Inez Cardinal’s task will be to find a sentence that strikes a balance between the consequences of the offence and the blameworthiness of the offender, said Quaid.

READ MORE: Crown wants truck driver sentenced to 10 years in Broncos crash

While Sidhu pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, it was not a hit and run, he wasn’t impaired, nor was he speeding, or texting and driving, Quaid noted.

On the other hand, she said, the outcome of his actions was horrific.

“On the one side you got terrible consequences. On the other side you have a mistake that is not the worst of the mistakes,” she said.

“What’s the right answer?”

She believes the Crown is taking a hard line in proposing a 10-year prison sentence.

“It doesn’t seem proportionate to his moral blameworthiness,” said Toronto criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown. “It doesn’t seem proportionate to his actions.”

Brown said determining a proper sentence for Sidhu will be challenging because the judge lacks comparable cases.

He also said the typical signs of bad driving are missing. That makes it tough to craft a sentence that discourages people from a specific action, such as drinking and driving.

“How do we deter other people from missing stop signs?” Brown said.

“He wasn’t distracted by his cellphone,” he said. ”He simply missed the traffic signal.”

Both Quaid and Brown said another significant factor Cardinal must weigh is Sidhu’s guilty plea.

“This is a person who has exactly the reaction that we hope … every person convicted or found guilty of a crime would have — to have this deep reflection, this absolute acceptance of responsibility,” Quaid said.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school trustees get pay hike

Salary increase based on remuneration policy adopted in 2014.

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Annual Roubaix races through Pitt Meadows

Maggie Coles-Lyster tops women’s category

Maple Ridge actress in Sealed for Freshness

Marla Todd plays the role of Bonnie in the comedy set in 1968

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

University mourns student who died in B.C. canoeing accident

Andrew Milner, 19, was in his second year with the University of Calgary’s basketball program

RCMP arrest B.C. man following threatening Vaisakhi Facebook post

Post made reference to pressure cooker bomb at massive Surrey parade

B.C. woman pleads for people to stop stealing daffodils meant to honour cancer victims

Cynthia Bentley honours memory of those lost to cancer by planting 100 daffodils each year

Canfor temporarily shutting down lumber mills across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment, according to the company

Four units damaged in Abbotsford apartment fire

Quick action from fire rescue service halted blaze from spreading beyond two damaged units

5 to start your day

Many in hospital after Aldergrove deck collapse, video showing pig abuse allegedly at Abbotsford farm and more

Two in critical condition, several still in hospital after Langley deck collapse

Close relative Satwant Garcha makes daily trips to visit those injured at the wedding

Most Read