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Const. Sarah Beckett’s widower calls for stricter penalties

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The widower of Const. Sarah Beckett, who was killed in 2016 by an impaired driver, says the sentencing of that driver for another impaired charge just weeks after the crash that killed his wife is an outrage. Richard Zussman reports – Jul 24, 2018

There isn’t a wall in Brad Aschenbrenner’s home that doesn’t carry a memory of his wife, Const. Sarah Beckett.

A photo of Beckett hangs near the living room table, messages of condolences sketched on the white matting. Nearby sits a box, filled with birthday and Christmas cards Beckett’s two sons have written to her since she was killed on April 6, 2016.

READ MORE: Kenneth Fenton was drinking before crash that claimed life of RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett: Crown

The mementos serve as a constant reminder of the RCMP officer who was killed when her police cruiser was hit by Kenneth Jacob Fenton, who was impaired at the time.

Aschenbrenner says he has so many mementos to ensure Beckett remains a part of her children’s lives.

“My only focus is the boys,” he said. “That is my only focus is to make sure they are taken care of.”

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WATCH HERE: RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett’s killer sentenced to four years

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RCMP Constable Sarah Beckett’s killer sentenced to four years – Jul 14, 2017

Aschenbrenner is calling for an increase to mandatory minimum sentences for offenders guilty of impaired driving causing death.

Fenton was sentenced to four years in jail in connection to Beckett’s death. On Monday he was handed an additional 18 months in jail for a crash that badly injured his girlfriend.

“I don’t want this to happen to someone else. It’s not right. It’s not fair to anyone. All the things I have gone through with my kids, my wife’s family, there is so much darkness,” Aschenbrenner said.

“It’s not that I am living in the past. I want to live in the future and I want to change this.”

The grieving father wants the minimum sentence for a driver guilty of impaired driving causing death to be increased to five years. He believes that stricter penalties would ensure fewer people get behind the wheel of the car.

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READ MORE: No charges for Mountie pursuing truck that killed Cst. Sarah Beckett

But criminal lawyer Mike Mulligan says there is no evidence that stricter minimum sentences have the intended consequences of reducing drunk driving.

“It is very understandable the way he feels, he has suffered an incredible loss, you know it has been a tragedy for the whole community. With that being said, the research into mandatory minimum sentence is clear in terms they are not effective in deterring people from committing offences,” said Mulligan.

READ MORE: ‘I know how it hurts’: Widower of RCMP officer Sarah Beckett shares pain of fallen Abbotsford officer’s family

Aschenbrenner is also frustrated that Fenton was not charged with fleeing from police in connection with his wife’s death.

In a victim impact statement prepared for the case in connection to Fenton’s crash that did not involve Beckett, Aschenbrenner wrote a shorter sentence would send a bad message to the public.

“Any outcome other than the maximum allowable sentence for this offender’s reckless actions would also send a potentially dangerous and confusing message to Canadians: It is permissible to drive while severely intoxicated, flee from police, kill an RCMP officer in the line of duty in the process, and again get back behind the wheel while intoxicated afterwards,” reads the letter.

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READ MORE: Man who killed Const. Sarah Beckett pleads guilty in second drinking-driving crash

Fenton had a history of impaired driving, but Beckett’s death was his first criminal conviction. He also pleaded guilty in both cases, which ensured there was no lengthy trial.

“The sentences imposed on Mr. Fenton fell within the range sought by Crown Counsel, based on our review of the applicable law and the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors,” reads a statement from BC Prosecution Service spokesperson Alisia Adams. “Sentencing is an individualized process, and judges have considerable latitude in deciding what sentence should be imposed within the parameters established by the Criminal Code.”

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