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Humboldt Broncos bus crash: Truck driver Jaskirat Sidhu to learn sentence today

MELFORT, Sask. —

The sentencing of Calgary truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will take place just under one year after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash that lawyers say is incomparable to any other in Canada.

On Friday, Sidhu, 30, is due back at the Kerry Vickar Centre in Melfort to be sentenced on 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, to which he pleaded guilty in connection with the April 6, 2018 bus tragedy.

Sidhu, an inexperienced truck driver, failed to stop at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335. As a result, the bus carrying the Broncos hockey team T-Boned Sidhu’s double trailer semi, according to details heard at Sidhu’s four-day sentencing hearing in January.

Judge Inez Cardinal heard detailed submissions from the Crown and defence. Prosecutor Thomas Healey argued for a 10-year sentence followed by a 10-year driving ban. Defence lawyer Mark Brayford did not argue for a specific sentence, instead presenting case law from other cases of dangerous driving causing death that involved sentences between 18 months and four and a half years.

While the lawyers disagreed on sentencing lengths, they agreed this is new territory when it comes to case law.

Sidhu spoke publicly for the first time at the conclusion of his sentencing hearing. He apologized to the victims’ families and said he takes full responsibility for the crash.

Court heard he was distracted by a flapping tarp on his trailer and missed four highway-related signs leading up to the stop sign at the intersection. Brayford said the failure to comprehend the signage is what elevated it from a traffic offence to a criminal act.

Most of the 29 families with loved ones who died in the crash gave victim impact statements in court. There was a striking level of forgiveness and sympathy shown towards Sidhu, with some even asking that he receive a sentence that won’t ruin his life.

Healey argued the sentence needs to send a strong message about the dangers of distracted driving.

“This was not just an accident, this was a crime. A very serious crime,” he said.

As of December 2018, the Criminal Code of Canada increased the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death from 14 years to life imprisonment, and the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm from 10 years to 14 years. The changes do not apply to Sidhu because the crash happened before the amendment.

By Bre McAdam

Copyright Postmedia Network, 2019

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