A Prince George man was sentenced Monday to 18 months in jail for the July 2010 death of a friend when he lost control of his pickup truck and ran into a telephone pole.
In passing sentence on Kane Steven John Jardine, 25, provincial court judge Victor Galbraith said he chose the lower end of the sentencing options available to him, noting Jardine's remorse for what as described as a brief instance of bad driving.
Galbraith also found that while Jardine had been drinking, there was no evidence that he was impaired when he spun out of the parking lot of the Pineview Community Hall on July 4, 2010 and struck the pole on Bendixon Road.
One of two others in the vehicle, Brad Lee Rotar, 27, died in hospital as a result of his injuries.
Galbraith found that the three had gone to a pub and then to the hall where a wedding reception was being held.
Apparently not invited to the reception, they were asked to leave shortly after they arrived and got back into the pickup truck. Likely to show his displeasure at being ejected from the reception, Jardine left the scene "in a flurry of spinning tires."
"He spun the rear wheels of his pickup truck in the parking lot and continued to do so as the truck entered the road," Galbraith said. "Within sight of the hall, he lost control of the truck on the wet roadway, striking a telephone pole and killing his friend, Brad Rotar."
All three occupants were taken to hospital with injuries, police said at the time, and the extensive damage to the truck suggested it was going at highway speed when it hit the pole, Galbraith found.
Witnesses at the reception and the pub said the three had been drinking but were not intoxicated and Galbraith estimated the incident lasted "probably less than a minute and likely a matter of of only a few seconds."
Jardine has no prior criminal record, has been regularly employed and is a certified welder, Galbraith said. He also noted Jardine pleaded guilty to the charge and carries the burden of Rotar's death with him. Jardine had wept openly in court and had contemplated suicide over the matter, Galbraith said.
"I accept that this is a one-time mistake and don't expect the courts will ever see Mr. Jardine back in court again," Galbraith said.
Galbraith agreed with sentiment of Rotar's father, expressed in a pre-sentence report, that no sentence will ever bring his son back.
"Can I impose a sentence that will likely reflect Brad Rotar's death? No, I don't think I can and I won't insult you by pretending that I can," Galbraith said. "All I can do is impose a sentence that is in harmony with other sentences in similar circumstances and hope that it will deter others and perhaps save a life in the future."
Members of both families were in the courtroom for the verdict and most were in tears by the time Jardine was taken away in handcuffs. Jardine was also issued a three-year driving prohibition.
Outside the courthouse, Rotar's father, Brian, appeared resigned to the outcome.
"He [Galbraith] went with what is the law, what the rules are now...we're not vindictive, in fact we know the [Jardine] family," he said.
Rotar described his son, who is originally from Edmonton but had been living in Prince George, as hard working, caring and with plenty of friends. "At his funeral, there were 450 people there," he said.