Does 17-year sentence for Brady Robertson set standard for fatalities caused while driving high, and raise the bar for alcohol-related deaths?
Brady Robertson, the man responsible for killing a Caledon mother and her three young daughters in a horrific car crash in 2020, was sentenced to 17-years in prison in a Brampton courtroom this morning.
On June 20, 2020 Robertson, got behind the wheel with at least eight times the legal limit of THC, the active ingredient of cannabis, in his bloodstream. He sped 135-kilometres-an-hour toward the intersection of Countryside Drive and Torbram Road in north Brampton, swerving out-of-control around cars stopped at the red light before violently slamming into the family SUV, sending it into a concrete light pole which fell directly onto and collapsed the top of the vehicle. The crash killed 37-year-old Karolina Ciasullo, six-year-old Klara, three-year-old Lilianna and one-year-old Mila.
“Mr Robertson thought he was above complying to the laws that relate to the privilege of driving,” said Justice Sandra Caponecchia on Monday. In the two years leading up to the crash, Robertson was charged with numerous offences under the Highway Traffic Act.
Robertson is being given credit for 34 months of time served in pretrial custody, leaving him with 14 years and 2 months left to serve. Robertson will also receive a 20-year driving prohibition.
Brady Robertson will be barred from driving for 20 years following his 14-year prison term.
(Ontario Court of Justice)
During a pre-sentencing hearing last month, Robertson told the court he took full accountability for the accident, and that he wished it had been him who had perished in the fatal crash.
“I wish every time I close my eyes and sleep, that the recurring dream I have will be true; that I died and they lived,” Robertson said.
After the collision, Robertson pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, but not guilty to four counts of impaired driving and a dangerous driving charge for an incident that occurred two days prior. His not-guilty plea on the impaired charges included an attempt to get blood sample evidence thrown out and a constitutional challenge that argued the effects of cannabis are different from person to person and therefore guidelines for legal limits should not be applied universally. That challenge was ultimately dismissed.
The sentencing decision falls in the middle of the requests of the Crown and Robertson’s defence lawyers who last month argued for 23-year and seven-year sentences respectively. While Justice Caponecchia said the seven-year sentence was too lenient, the 23-years being sought by the Crown was unprecedented and did not take into account certain mitigating factors in Robertson’s case. However, she did note “there is good reason to move beyond the sentences imposed in past sentences.”
The 17-years is one of the steepest sentences handed down in Canada for impaired driving causing death, and has the potential to chart a new path for Canadian courts to hand down stricter penalties for those involved in deadly impaired driving collisions.
The case has been compared to that of Marco Muzzo, who in 2016 was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing three children and their grandfather in Vaughan while driving drunk.
Robertson’s sentence goes beyond that of a Quebec man who in April of this year was given 16 years for killing a family of four while driving drunk. It was one of the longest sentences handed out for impaired driving in the province.
Anna Martin, Karolina’s sister, speaking outside the courthouse from a prepared statement, lamented that “no sentence would ever be enough.”
“I am beyond disgusted with the justice system that someone who takes away four lives gets so little time,” she said. “During these two years not only did Brady take away our girls, he dragged us through the court system by trying not to plead guilty and during this time neither he nor his family showed any remorse whatsoever, quite the opposite actually.”
“We are constantly mourning what was, and what will never be. That is why the sentencing decision is crushing to us all."
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