British Columbia’s DUI laws are some of the most stringent in Canada. Severe penalties will alter your life forever. As the case of Mr. Fenton lays bare, the Supreme Court of British Columbia won’t hesitate to impose harsh sentences despite mitigating factors.
A judgement posted by the Supreme Court of British Columbia was handed down in punishment to Kenneth Jacob Fenton, a man convicted of a DUI incident that caused the tragic death of Mrs. Sarah Beckett, an RCMP officer on duty that night.
The case reached the court not over the facts of the case, but over the severity of the sentencing. As the presiding judge made it known, the court will not hesitate to impose severe and far-reaching penalties regardless of mitigating circumstances, of which there were many.
Here is more on the facts of the case:
On April 4th, 2016, Mr. Fenton worked an ordinary day before going to a friend’s home at approximately 5:00 p.m. Throughout the night, Mr. Fenton and several other friends drank alcohol as they mourned the death of a friend who had committed suicide several days prior. Rather than spending the night, he left after a disagreement and drove home.
On his way home, Cpl. Holmes of the West Shore RCMP noticed a truck driving abnormally fast with its tail light out. He followed Mr. Fenton and turned on his emergency lights. Mr. Fenton, while driving upwards of 90 km/hr, looked in his mirror and saw Cpl. Holme’s lights and proceeded to run through a red light into an intersection, colliding with the car of Cst. Sarah Beckett, who had been investigating a possible armed robbery with Cpl. Holmes earlier that morning.
Cst. Beckett was killed in the crash.
The prosecution called for a heavy sentence due to the severe nature of the crime. Mr. Fenton’s actions had resulted in the death of an RCMP officer and mother of two young children. Not only that, but he had a history of driving violations including two 24-hour prohibitions.
The defence argued that his sentence should be limited to three years of jail time and a five-year driving prohibition due to mitigating circumstances, including:
- a difficult family life
- the recent death of his close friend
- his immediate acceptance of responsibility for his actions
- his genuine remorse
- his sobriety in the wake of his crime
The prosecution argued that his sentence should be far more severe—a five-year jail sentence and a ten-year prohibition of driving privileges—due to several aggravating circumstances, including:
- the heinousness of his crime
- his history of alcohol-related issues
- his high level of impairment
- the speed at which he was traveling
- his history of Motor Vehicle Act violations
- his killing of an officer on duty
The court did indeed punish Mr. Fenton more severely. His final sentence was:
- four years in jail
- ten years driving prohibition commencing from the date he committed the offence
Despite several severe mitigating factors, the court showed Mr. Fenton little leniency. He will now carry a criminal record for the rest of his life, and will not be permitted to drive for a decade.
A DUI is a serious crime in British Columbia. If you have been charged with one, you have the right to legal counsel. Contact DUI defence lawyers in British Columbia immediately.