June 26, 2014 5:36 pm

Speeder who killed 13-year-old girl asks family for forgiveness

TORONTO – The Harding family was supposed to get an ounce of closure Thursday following the death of their 13-year-old daughter, Sarah.

But they will have to wait a little longer to hear what justice is meted out to the man found responsible for her death.

At a sentencing hearing for Michael Malkowski Justice Joseph Bovard announced he would hand down a sentence in August.

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“We kind of thought today was going to be the final end of it,”Sarah’s sister Jennifer said outside the Orangeville courthouse.  “We’re finding out it’s continuing again and it’s just a little frustrating.”

Malkowski was 20-years-old at the time of the March, 2012 incident.  He was driving 150 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on Airport Road in Caledon East. He lost control and slammed into Harding as she crossed the street to buy ice cream with her brother and his girlfriend.

In the ensuing trial Malkowski was found guilty of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

“You’re constantly reminded of that day,” Sarah’s father Paul said, shaking his head.

He says he regularly drives by the site of his daughter’s death on the way to work or running errands.

“It never escapes you.”

In her victim impact statement Sarah’s mother Susan Fisher told the court she still has trouble sleeping and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We’ll never get over the loss of Sarah,” she told reporters outside of court.

Malkowski has no criminal record, no addictions, no previous driving offences, no priors of any sort. His lawyer Dennis Morris made that clear in his presentation to court.

Morris read dozens of character references from friends, neighbours and work colleagues describing Malkowski as “kind-hearted…helpful…a heart of gold.”

Malkowski himself was also given an opportunity to address the court, reading a tearful letter to the Hardings apologizing for his actions.

“I am truly sorry for everything I have put your family through,” he said. “If I had one wish, I would bring her back without hesitation.”

Malkowski surprisingly approached the Harding family in person during a break in proceedings and apologized again.

“I think that was appreciated by everyone,” said Sarah’s brother Evan who was there when the incident occured.  “I wasn’t expecting to get a personal conversation with him.”

Paul Harding remarked that Malkowski likely apologized against the advice of his lawyer, noting “that’s the first time we’ve ever spoken in over two years.”

“Or even had eye contact. That’s the first time there was eye contact,” Fisher said.

The Crown, with the family’s approval, is asking for Malkowski’s license to be suspended for at least five years and for him to perform community service. Preferably involving publicly speaking about the dangers of speeding.

Paul Harding says the family isn’t looking for Justice Bovard to lock Malkowski up and throw away the key.

“We’re not looking to destroy another life, one has already been destroyed. But at the same time, a serious crime has been committed and (Malkowski) needs to be accountable.”

A sentence will be handed down August 7th in Orangeville.

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