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‘Cowardly option’: Family of woman killed in Toronto hit-and-run want lengthy sentence

Click to play video: 'Slain pedestrian’s family hopes for lengthy sentence'
Slain pedestrian’s family hopes for lengthy sentence
WATCH: The judge ruling over the sentencing of the driver who struck and killed a 29-year-old woman in Toronto and then fled the scene two years ago is reserving her sentence until late June – Apr 19, 2024

The family of the 29-year-old woman who was killed in a hit-and-run in Toronto two years ago is hoping the driver responsible receives a lengthier sentence.

On Friday in an Ontario court room, the judge ruling over the sentencing of the driver who struck and killed Erin Yoxall, originally from Scotland, said she will give her sentencing in late June.

Ertug Direk, 44, who already has a lengthy criminal history and has faced firearms and drugs charges, has pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death and fail to remain at the scene of an accident-causing death.

The tragic accident occurred in the early morning hours on April 14, 2022, in the Spadina Avenue and King Street West area.

At around 3:13 a.m., Direk left a parking garage at 621 King St. West and drove northbound on Brant Street. After making a right-hand turn, he travelled eastbound on Adelaide Street and struck Yoxall, who was attempting to cross the road near Spadina Avenue where there was no crosswalk.

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In an agreed statement of facts, the crown prosecutor and defence lawyer wrote that Direk was driving a borrowed Mercedes Benz AMG GT convertible on wet pavement at 107 km/h in a 40 km/h zone before he hit Yoxall.

Yoxall, who was walking home from a party with friends, was struck by the right front quarter of the Mercedes and the side windshield. She was projected over the vehicle’s roof and landed on the road behind the collision, striking her head on the road.

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She was rushed to the trauma centre at St. Michael’s Hospital with a serious brain injury, where she succumbed to her injuries two days later.

Direk fled the scene after he struck Yoxall. Video evidence showed he drove to another parking garage, assessed the damage to the borrowed vehicle, then drove away in a different Mercedes. He turned himself in to police five days later after police had discovered the damaged Mercedes.

Click to play video: 'Family identify woman killed in Toronto hit-and-run as Erin Yoxall, 30, of Scotland'
Family identify woman killed in Toronto hit-and-run as Erin Yoxall, 30, of Scotland

Yoxall’s parents, Roseanne and Anthony, flew to Toronto from Scotland to attend court on Friday. The Yoxalls had only been to Canada once before, to say goodbye to their daughter and arrange a funeral for her.

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Erin’s mother read a victim-impact statement to the court, addressing Direk directly more than once.

“You chose the cowardly option and drove off,” she told the court, adding, “Criminality trumped humanity on April 14, 2022.”

Roseanne told the court and Justice Susan Kimel that her daughter’s “vibrant life had been extinguished” and that Erin’s death caused the family “immeasurable sadness.”

“No future [family] celebrations will ever be the same,” she said, pausing occasionally to wipe away tears.

Roseanne told the court that Erin had left instructions ‘that were to be carried out to the letter’ explaining that she wanted to donate her organs and tissue at the time of her death.

The court heard that Direk has a lengthy criminal history and had 53 prior criminal convictions, including three for dangerous driving.

He was released from jail on Feb. 23, 2023, after a bail review, only to be re-arrested and returned to detention on Oct. 31, 2023, on unrelated charges.

“There are no words to express the depths of my remorse,” Direk said in court. “My heart aches knowing the loss you are experiencing.”

“I want to take responsibility of my actions. I have no excuses that can ease your pain,” he said.

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The prosecutor and defence have recommended that Direk receives a sentence of 4.5 years.

Based on Direk’s lengthy criminal past that includes drug and firearm offences, Erin’s family hopes he will receive a longer sentence.

“He deserves a bigger sentence, a longer sentence. But when he is released, in my eyes, he will still do the same things he’s doing before being arrested,” Anthony Yoxall said to Global News.

“I just feel like 4.5 years does not fit the crime,” added Roseanne.

— with files from Global News’ Sean O’Shea and Catherine McDonald.

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