The man who struck and killed an 11-year-old boy while driving under the influence of a sleeping pill was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars this afternoon by a Prince Albert judge.
Gordon Morris Crain, 53, pleaded guilty in April to impaired driving causing death in July of 2014. Crown prosecutor Keith Amyotte said Crain swerved off Highway 3 on Muskoday First Nation onto the grassy shoulder where a group of boys were bicycling. Crain first struck and killed a dog before clipping one boy’s bicycle and running directly into 11-year-old Jared Bear. The boy was rushed to a Prince Albert hospital, but succumbed to his injuries.
The court heard several victim impact statements, and both of Bear’s parents wept while expressing the lasting effects the loss of their son has had on their lives, and on their family. Both wore bright yellow T-shirts reading “Justice for Jared” in bold black lettering.
“Not one single day goes by that my son is not on my mind. Not one single minute,” Bear’s mother Raelene Adam said. “I wasn’t done raising my baby.”
Jared’s father Vince Bear said his unfading grief has left him feeling hollow and incomplete.
“The day we lost Jared was the day I lost a huge piece of myself,” he said. “I am just an empty shell.”
Crain, who sat in the prisoner’s dock with his balding head bowed throughout the hearing, dabbed at his eyes with a tissue after hearing the statements.
Amyotte pushed for a three-year penitentiary sentence, pointing to Crain’s numerous prior convictions for the related offences of impaired driving, driving while disqualified, and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. Although the charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, Amyotte said the Crown had agreed not to seek a sentence longer than three years in exchange for Crain’s guilty plea. In contrast, defence lawyer Mary McAuley argued for a sentence of two years less a day, which would allow Crain to serve his time in a provincial correctional centre.
McAuley said Crain was given a non-prescribed sleeping pill to help him sleep, but then received a call from his sister telling him she was suffering from shortness of breath. Crain drove to his sister’s Muskoday residence and waited with her until the ambulance arrived, then was driving home when the pill took hold and the accident occurred.
“He left, he was heading home, and he doesn’t remember anything else,” McAuley said. Crain regained his senses at the scene of the accident, she said, and cooperated fully with police throughout their investigation.
Crain admits he was reckless in getting behind the wheel after taking the pill, McAuley said, but emphasized that the case is different than it would be if he was impaired by alcohol. McAuley also noted that Crain has spent nearly three years under a court-ordered curfew and electronic monitoring conditions while awaiting his sentencing, which she described as punitive.
Given the opportunity to comment personally, Crain apologized for the pain his actions have caused.
“I just want to say sorry to the family of Jared Bear,” he said quietly.
After adjourning the hearing for two hours to consider his decision, Queen’s Bench Justice G.M. Currie sentenced Crain to 30 months in prison. Crain will be prohibited from driving for five years following his release.
Outside the courtroom, Adam expressed her disappointment in the sentence.
“I’m not happy with it. Not happy with it at all,” she said. “We don’t feel that justice was served in the loss of our son.”
Adam said she did not accept Crain’s apology as genuine, and said she believes everything he has done since the incident has been in the interest of reducing his sentence.
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