Drunk driver sentenced to 8 years in triple fatal
Watch above: “You ruined my life,” Sheri Arsenault told Pratt in court before he was sentenced to eight years in prison for a fatal crash that killed three men, including Arsenault’s son. Laurel Gregory reports.
EDMONTON – Johnathan Pratt, the man responsible for the deaths of three young men from Beaumont, has been sentenced to eight years behind bars.
Justice Paul Belzil handed out the sentence Thursday afternoon, after a morning filled with emotions in a Wetaskiwin court room.
The eight-year sentence comes after Pratt was found guilty earlier this year of manslaughter and impaired driving causing death in a collision that killed Bradley Arsenault, Kole Novak, and Thaddeus Lake.
“I was hoping it would maybe be 10 [years],” said Zane Novak, Kole’s father, “set a little bit more of a precedent. I think that if there has ever been a case in recent history before the courts that really could have set some distinct precedent, this could have been it.
“Though there is some closure with this today, it’s minimal.”
“The outcome, I don’t want to use the word happy because there’s no such thing as that word regarding something like this,” said Sheri Arsenault, Bradley’s mother. “But I am pleased with the outcome.”
The Crown said a manslaughter charge in this type of case is rare in Canada but the severity of the crash made it appropriate.
A collision reconstructionist said Pratt’s pick-up truck was travelling nearly 200 km/h before it slammed into the back of the three young men’s car in November 2011.
“There was an extreme driving pattern, extreme speed, no braking, no steering to avoid the other vehicle, driving right through that other vehicle, and of course the extreme level of intoxication which at its lowest was at 200 milligrams per cent,” said Ryan Pollard, Crown Prosecutor.
Pratt has said no amount of jail time can change what happened.
Court heard about two dozen victim impact statements Thursday, from family members of the young men. Zane said his son Kole never hung up the phone without saying ‘I love you.’
“I can’t begin to count the number of kids he taught to skateboard, snowboard,” Zane read. “It took all my determination to do this victim impact statement…I do it only to honour Kole.”
Many in the courtroom wiped tears from their eyes as Bradley’s father, Rob Arsenault, read his statement.
“My son Brad is always on my mind,” he said.
Sheri Arsenault said she could write 1007 victim impact statements – one for every day her heart has ached since “Bradley’s traumatizing death.”
“You ruined my life,” Sheri said, looking directly at Pratt.
The Crown was seeking a 10-year sentence and a lifetime driving ban.
The Defence said a 10-year sentence would “crush Mr. Pratt” and argued that society is not served by someone who “rots in prison” with no opportunity to contribute.
The Defence was asking for between four and seven years in prison along with a two or three-year probation. In addition, the Defence asked for a five-year driving prohibition upon Pratt’s date of release.
Prior to Justice Belzil’s decision Thursday, Pratt briefly addressed court.
“I do feel pain for what has happened…There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t think about the families.”
The eight-year sentence includes a five-year concurrent sentence for the three counts of manslaughter and three years served concurrently for impaired driving causing death.
“I think the things that I will always be resentful of is the fact that the sentences are served concurrently instead of consecutively,” said Zane. “There were three individuals that lost their lives and I really will always think that there should be three separate periods of time that the perpetrator of that crime should have to serve.”
Justice Belzil also imposed a lifetime driving prohibition for the impaired driving causing death charge.
The sentencing hearing began at 9 a.m. at the Wetaskiwin Provincial Court house.
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