Driver’s ac­tions ‘shock­ing,’ ‘fright­en­ing’

Judge hands Rai jail term, driv­ing ban

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - TEVIAH MORO

The driver of a dump truck whose raised box slammed into the James N. Al­lan Burling­ton Bay Sky­way two sum­mers ago has been sen­tenced to one year in jail for danger­ous driv­ing.

But Sukhvin­der Rai is “se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing” an ap­peal, David Locke, his lawyer, said shortly af­ter his client’s sen­tenc­ing Monday.

Jus­tice Fred Cam­pling called Rai’s fail­ure to lower the box of his truck be­fore driv­ing on the QEW “shock­ing and fright­en­ing.”

Rai was driv­ing back from the Triple M Metal scrap yard on Park­dale Av­enue North to Peel Trans­port in Bramp­ton when the box slammed into an over­head truss and scaf­fold­ing on the Sky­way on July 31, 2014.

He’d been driv­ing a dump truck for less than three months.

The col­li­sion sent three mo­torists to hos­pi­tal with mi­nor in­juries, caused $1.2 mil­lion in dam­age to the bridge and snarled traf­fic dur­ing the Civic

Hol­i­day week­end.

But the fall­out could have been much worse, Cam­pling said.

“Ob­vi­ously, it hit the first bridge that it could and we are lucky no­body was se­ri­ously hurt or killed as a re­sult.”

Cam­pling didn’t ac­cept Locke’s ar­gu­ment that Rai was dis­ad­van­taged by out­moded safety mech­a­nisms on his truck.

That’s like a driver who backs up over a child blam­ing the car for not hav­ing a cam­era, he said. “Oh, it’s not my fault. I didn’t have a backup cam­era.”

Rai was the op­er­a­tor of the truck and should have taken care with the box, Cam­pling said. “And you grossly failed to do that.” Cam­pling noted the max­i­mum sen­tence for danger­ous driv­ing is five years. Deputy Crown Todd Nor­man sought one year while Locke asked for a con­di­tional sen­tence.

The judge, who opted for one year be­hind bars, also banned the 36-year-old Bramp­ton man from driv­ing for three years. Rai must pay a $200 vic­tim sur­charge, as well. Neatly dressed in a light-blue col­lared shirt and dark slacks, he de­clined to say any­thing through a Pun­jabi in­ter­preter upon sen­tenc­ing.

Hand­cuffed, Rai was led out of the court­room through a side door by a bailiff.

The judge-only trial, which be­gan on March 2, un­folded with more than one twist.

Rai was ac­quit­ted of mis­chief en­dan­ger­ing life be­cause the pros­e­cu­tion hadn’t proven be­yond a rea­son­able doubt he’d de­lib­er­ately driven into the bridge.

Breath sam­ples were also ruled in­ad­mis­si­ble be­cause Burling­ton OPP took them out­side the three-hour win­dow stip­u­lated by the Crim­i­nal Code. That tor­pe­doed drunk-driv­ing charges. But Monday, Cam­pling noted Rai was con­victed of im­paired driv­ing in 2008.

And, al­though the breath test was scut­tled, he would con­sider that an OPP of­fi­cer smelled booze on Rai as he sat in the cruiser, and that a bot­tle with al­co­hol in it was found be­side his driver’s seat.

“It’s my view that you are a con­tin­u­ing dan­ger on the road,” the judge told Rai, re­ject­ing Locke’s bid for a con­di­tional sen­tence that could have in­volved com­mu­nity service.

Cam­pling agreed with Locke that the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ing wasn’t the ap­pro­pri­ate set­ting to de­cide how much resti­tu­tion, if at all, Rai ought to pay vic­tims of the crash. Some of them could still be com­pen­sated through a civil case, he noted.

Out­side court, Locke said resti­tu­tion is up to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to sort out and noted he knew noth­ing about any re­lated civil lit­i­ga­tion. His client has suf­fered con­sid­er­ably, he said. “He’s go­ing through a rough time.” Rai, who’s mar­ried and has two chil­dren, has been work­ing as a labourer in Bramp­ton while on bail.

His client may seek an ap­peal, which must be launched within 30 days of sen­tenc­ing.

Sukhvin­der Rai

HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR FILE PHOTO

Dam­age to the Sky­way is seen on July 31, 2014.

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