Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ruining Lives

"Driving is a privilege, not a right. Mr. Casselman has shown through his persistent and contemptuous refusal to operate a motor vehicle in a responsible and safe manner that he cannot be trusted to operate a motor vehicle again."
"The collision drove Mr. Smith up onto the windshield. Mr. Casselman did not get out and check on Mr. Smith or summon help. Instead, frantically, he revved his engine until his car came free (of a snowbank) and tore away, driving on three tires and the rim of the front right tire."
"His addictions have not only contributed to his criminal history. They have plagued the quality of his own life. He recognizes that they have prevented him from finishing school and ruined his marriage ... yet he has shown little commitment to overcome them."
Justice David Paciocco

"I have a big problem with the time-and-a-half (credit) for time served. They say it was because of the conditions at the (Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre) jail, but that's ludicrous."
"His leg is held together by pins and brackets. He'll have all the hardware taken out, and they'll be trying a different procedure."
"Mr. Casselman's actions will always impact Derek's life to some degree. For a human being to leave another human being injured in the middle of the road is absolutely horrendous."
Terri Smith, mother of Derek Smith
Judge jails repeat drunk driver who left badly injured snowmobiler on road
More than a year ago, 16-year-old Derek Smith was hit by an impaired driver while out snowmobiling just south of Metcalfe, on trails by 8th Line Road. Jeffrey Casselman was found guilty on several charges, including dangerous driving causing bodily harm, leaving the scene of an accident and impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, April 17, 2014.   Photograph by: Jean Levac , Ottawa Citizen
Eight years ago, Terri Smith and her then-young child of ten, suffered a dreadful personal loss when Terri's husband, her son Derek's father, was killed in a road accident on Russell Road. Now Derek, after his June high school graduation is scheduled for major surgery on his leg. Jeffrey Casselman, 46, smashed into a snowmobile driven by Derek, then 16, in February 2013. He then drove off, leaving the boy seriously injured on the road. He might have been dead, for all Mr. Casselman knew, or cared. The only thing he was interested in was leaving the scene.

Jeffrey Casselman left Derek Smith with a smashed, permanently damaged right leg and a brain injury that might have turned out to be a quick death sentence. Questioned by police later to explain damage to his car, Mr. Casselman explained he had hit a deer. He made no enquiries about the condition of the boy he had hit. His licence was suspended, and he pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, obstructing a police officer, dangerous driving and breaching probation.

Oh yes, breaching probation. The fact is, the man had no fewer than 48 convictions on his record, inclusive of the following:
  • Six criminal driving convictions, including three for impaired driving;
  • Five convictions for driving while suspended;
  • Four convictions for driving without insurance; and
  • Nine previous breaches of court orders.
Mr. Casselman, in other words, was a well-seasoned offender. The remorse he expressed at trial was insincere; it seemed to Terri Smith, Derek's mother that it "sounded like everything his lawyer told him to say". Justice Paciocco mentioned the insincerity of his message of remorse and added no mitigating circumstances existed for the manner in which he had behaved, abandoning all responsibility in his "crass self-preservation", and leaving the badly injured boy to fend for himself, or die an early death.

Justice Paciocco sentenced Mr. Casselman to three years and eight months in prison, banning him from driving ever again. Subtracting the credit for time served (428 days in prison with 1.5 days-credit for each of those days), another 22 months and 20 days are left for the man to serve through continued incarceration. Probation, according to the judge, was impractical given his past record of non-compliance.

Treatment previously at a specialized facility had been a failure, reflecting Casselman's lack of investment in his own future. Mr. Casselman is a sociopath, a drug abuser and alcoholic since his youth. His own youth and future took place under a black cloud of self-inflicted damage. And his actions on that day that proved so fateful for young Derek Smith, saw to it that another young man who deserved far better has a lifetime of trauma waiting to accompany his own journey through life.

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