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Ontario man gets prison time in hit-and-run that nearly killed teen cyclist

Click to play video: 'Mother of hit-and-run victim Tristan Roby reacts to driver’s sentence'
Mother of hit-and-run victim Tristan Roby reacts to driver’s sentence
WATCH: Mother of hit-and-run victim Tristan Roby reacts to driver's sentence – Jun 18, 2024

Nearly five years after a brutal hit-and-run crash in London, Ont., that forever changed the lives of the Roby family, the man behind the wheel has been sentenced.

Jesse Bleck, 30, was sentenced on Tuesday to a total of four-and-a-half years in prison as well as a 10-year driving ban. Taking into account time already served, the prison sentence works out to three years, nine months and 13 days.

“I’m acutely aware the sentence is unlikely to bring comfort to Tristan and his family, and the daily trauma they experience,” said Justice Kelly Tranquilli.

“Nevertheless, I hope it will bring some closure to these difficult years that have passed since that night on Exeter Road. ”

Bleck was found guilty last August of driving while prohibited and failing to remain at the scene of a collision causing bodily harm in connection with the crash. Tranquilli handed down a sentence of three years and eight months for failing to stop and 10 months for driving while prohibited, to be served consecutively.

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The defence had hoped to avoid additional time behind bars, which the Crown disagreed with. In Tranquilli’s decision, she described his conduct as “cruel and cowardly.”

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“Courts of this country will not tolerate failure to remain at the scene.”

Tristan Roby, who was out cycling with a friend on Exeter Road near Wonderland Road, was struck from behind by a vehicle on July 21, 2019.

He spent his 18th birthday lying in a hospital bed with a traumatic brain injury, a fractured leg, bruised lungs, a broken jaw, and several abrasions and contusions. He returned home in October 2019 but was left with life-altering injuries, unable to walk or talk.

It wasn’t until January 2020 that London police finally announced charges in the case.

Abby Roby, Tristan’s mother, said Tuesday’s sentence was reassuring but lamented that it took nearly five years to get there.

“You know what? Accidents happen. If he had stopped to help Tristan, it would still have been devastating and I’d still be mourning my son the same way. But he wouldn’t have been a monster. Only a monster does something – knows they did something – and then leaves.”

Last month, Abby said her son was in semi-palliative care and she just hoped he could hold on for sentencing. Her hopes were realized with Tristan in the courtroom with her on Tuesday as the sentence was announced.

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However, she said her son knows he doesn’t have much time left.

“A mom’s not supposed bury their child, right? I’ve been waiting for this (sentence). So has Tristan. He’s been holding on for this. Just to get some justice,” she told reporters outside of court.

“Over the last year, he’s really gone downhill. And he’s done. He himself knows that ‘the end is nigh,’ as he would say.”

Abby said immediately following the crash he appeared to be improving, but the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge setback as it resulted in numerous cancelled appointments. He started having seizures and was beginning to bounce back from that when he developed a Parkinson’s-like disorder.

“He’s never recovered from that.”

— with files from Global News’ Ben Harrietha and Amy Simon

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