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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Solomon on the Bench

"Imposing a custodial sentence will not make S.K. more accountable. S.K. is already serving a life sentence. He is a prisoner in his own body."
"I find fleeing the traffic stop was an impulsive and irrational act, but not an act of viciousness."
"I find S.K.'s medical needs are extensive, profound and all-encompassing, requiring virtually 24-hour, seven-day-a-week diligence. Presently those needs are unable to be addressed [in institutional incarceration]."
"Accountability is a central issue in this case. S.K. by his own folly, which culminated in the catastrophic injuries he sustained, has already been rendered accountable for the murder of Constable Styles."
"I find that rehabilitation is not necessary. S.K. is rehabilitated."
Justice Alex Sosna, Newmarket, Ontario courtroom, 16 November 2015
Aaron Lynett / National Post
Aaron Lynett / National Post   The scene on Highway 48 where Styles died after being struck by a vehicle at a traffic stop June 28, 2011.

He is now nineteen years of age, a quadriplegic. Fifteen at the time when he was the principal in an episode that took the life of a York Region police constable aged 32, the father of two young children. This was a 15-year-old boy given to problem behaviour. A teen who often took his parents' van without their permission, let alone their knowledge. He had done so yet again, was driving without a licence, and had three passengers, when Constable Garrett Styles pulled him over for speeding.

This was in June 2011 in East Gwillimbury, and the teen, anticipating his parents' reaction to their son getting a speeding ticket and far more given the other traffic infractions he would be charged with, asked the police officer to simply allow him to carry on. Needless to say, if the reason he would have articulated to the officer was that he was trying to evade having his parents know what he was up to, that argument would have, obviously and for all the right reasons, fallen on deaf ears.

When Constable Styles refused that request, the boy simply refused to exit from the vehicle as ordered. Suddenly the teen who because of his age, is not named -- reflecting the law in protection of under-age individuals involved in criminal offences -- accelerated, dragging along Constable Styles who hung on to the driver's door, across the highway and into a ditch. When the youth lost control of the vehicle it rolled on top of the policeman.

Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Peter J. Thompson/National Post    Police march down Yonge Street in Newmarket July 5, 2011 in remembrance of fallen comrade Constable Garrett Styles.

The judge, noting the "horrific and painful impact" of Constable Styles' death on family and friends and the "profound" effect the manner of his death imposed on the police community, forged on nonetheless, and set aside the Crown request for a prison sentence of five years in "open custody" along with four years of community supervision, recommending a wheelchair accessible prison located in Milton, Ontario for the open custody portion of the sentence.

In view of the fact that the youth, now 19, has no use of his hands or feet and requires assistance with ordinary everyday living tasks like bathing, feeding and washroom use, needing to be rolled over in bed twice nightly, and regularly monitored for medical complications, Justice Sosna felt that justice would better be served with a modicum of compassion for the teen who has suffered the consequences of his actions.

The teen's youth, the fact he had no previous record and was a good student, along with the unconditional support of his family, and in view of his life-altering and -shortening injuries, compelled the judge to suspend sentencing and impose instead a requirement that S.K. speak publicly three times annually for the next four years to explain how his injuries were caused, to deter others who might make "the same inappropriate decisions".

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