Ex­pert weighs in on likely sen­tence for truck driver

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE -

A le­gal ex­pert says she would be as­tounded if a judge handed the max­i­mum sen­tence to a semi-truck driver who has pleaded guilty to all 29 charges stem­ming from a dev­as­tat­ing col­li­sion with a bus car­ry­ing the Hum­boldt Bron­cos ju­nior hockey team.

Jaski­rat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty in Melfort provin­cial court last Tues­day to 16 counts of dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing death and 13 counts of dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing bod­ily harm. The max­i­mum penalty for dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing death is 14 years. It’s 10 years for dan­ger­ous driv­ing caus­ing bod­ily harm. A sen­tenc­ing hear­ing for Sidhu, 30, is to be­gin Jan. 28.

Jen­nifer Quaid, who teaches law at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa, said the over­whelm­ing scale of last spring’s tragedy isn’t the only fac­tor the sen­tenc­ing judge will have to weigh.

“Yes, it’s an ex­tremely se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent and there are mul­ti­ple counts. There’s one for each vic­tim,” she said. “But he is also a first­time of­fender. He’s young.”

It’s im­pos­si­ble to know the full cal­cu­lus that went into Sidhu’s de­ci­sion to plead guilty rather than make his case at trial, said Quaid, who added that she can’t see a sce­nario where Sidhu avoids prison time en­tirely. It could well be that upon see­ing the Crown’s ev­i­dence against him, his de­fence de­cided it was not worth fac­ing trial, she sug­gested.

Height­ened emo­tions and in­tense me­dia scru­tiny also may have made him loath to draw things out.

Sidhu’s lawyer, Mark Bray­ford, said his client didn’t want to make things worse by hav­ing a trial and that he’s dev­as­tated by the grief he’s caused the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

Quaid said Sidhu’s re­morse is likely to be a fac­tor at sen­tenc­ing.

She added the judge prob­a­bly will ac­knowl­edge Sidhu’s ac­tions weren’t the only fac­tors in the crash, given that con­cerns have been raised about vis­i­bil­ity at the ru­ral in­ter­sec­tion near Tis­dale, where the crash oc­curred on April 6, 2018.

The owner of the Cal­gary truck­ing com­pany that hired Sidhu also faces sev­eral charges, re­lated to fed­eral and provin­cial safety reg­u­la­tions.

“This young man fits into an un­for­tu­nate pat­tern that we see with cat­a­strophic events in the work­place: that (they) are dis­pro­por­tion­ately some­thing that hap­pens to young work­ers, to work­ers who are new to the job, to work­ers with lit­tle to no train­ing,” Quaid said.


Truck driver Jaski­rat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to all charges against him in the deadly Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus crash.

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