Scales of justice
The P.E.I. Court of Appeal has been asked to reduce the sentence imposed in the case of a 19-year-old St. Peters Bay man earlier this year for leaving the scene of an accident.
Zachary Evans-Renaud had been sentenced to four months in the provincial correctional centre for striking and seriously injuring a pedestrian with his car near UPEI and leaving him on the side of the road to fend for himself.
In court Friday Mitchell MacLeod, Evans-Renaud's defence counsel, asked the province's highest court to reduce that sentence to one of less than 90 days in jail so that his client could serve it on an intermittent basis.
MacLeod requested an intermittent sentence so that Evans-Renaud could continue his course of studies at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro.
He also asked for the reduction of Evans-Renaud's sentence so that he could continue to play Junior A hockey for the Truro Bearcats.
Evans-Renaud would like to be available to play for the Fred Page Cup, the Eastern Canadian Junior A Championship, which the Bearcats will host next year.
That representation prompted Chief Justice David Jenkins to remark that Evans-Renaud could be sentenced to eight months in jail and still be out in time to play in that tournament.
Asked what sentence he would like the court to impose in this case MacLeod proposed that Evans-Renaud be sentenced to a short, sharp period in custody, something less than 90 days.
That sentence would be served, he proposed, on an intermittent basis in blocks of varying lengths.
MacLeod set out a potential timetable in which the sentence could be served over the next number of months.
The sentence he proposed was designed to accommodate Evans-Renaud's studies in Truro moreso than his hockey schedule, he indicated.
MacLeod also proposed that the sentence include two years of probation, 100 hours of community service work and restitution of just under $700.
He also proposed a two-year driving prohibition.
Crown Counsel Gerald Quinn asked the court to uphold the original sentence imposed by Chief Provincial Court Judge John Douglas.
Quinn said the sentence imposed was well within the range of sentences generally imposed by the court for a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
He said the sentence recognized both the gravity of the offence and the risk of harm to the victim, who suffered serious injuries.
Quinn argued that before an Appellate Court can interfere with the sentence imposed by a provincial court there must be a reversible error in judgment by that judge.
Quinn noted the Supreme Court of Canada has directed appellate courts not to tinker with sentences imposed in cases from provincial courts unless there are serious errors in law.
Jenkins questioned whether what the court was being asked to do here could be considered as tinkering in light of the arguments before the court.
Quinn said he had not heard any argument advanced by MacLeod that would prompt a reduction in sentence.
Quinn said what was put before the sentencing judge was justified and reasonable.
He said the six months requested by the Crown would have been reasonable but that the four months imposed by Douglas was still within the acceptable range of sentence.
MacLeod argued that Douglas had failed to articulate in his decision that he had given due consideration to all of the other sentencing options available to the court after he decided that a conditional discharge was not appropriate.
MacLeod had originally intended to ask the Court of Appeal to consider the imposition of a conditional sentence for Evans-Renaud but abandoned that notion after considering decisions from two other jurisdictions that had just come to his attention.
The Court of Appeal has taken the case under advisement and will render its decision in several weeks.