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Sentencing decision in Debra Chrisjohn death pushed back

Cindy Chrisjohn reading a victim impact statement to reporters following the sentencing hearing for Nicholas Doering. Sawyer Bogdan/980 CFPL

A judge says more time is needed to decide on the sentence for the London police officer found guilty in the death of Debra Chrisjohn.

Const. Nicholas Doering was found guilty in November of one count of criminal negligence causing death and one count of failing to provide the necessaries of life to the 39-year-old Chrisjohn in the hours before she died in September 2016 of causes related to a drug overdose.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance, who convicted Doering, said she needed time to consider everything she heard before making the final sentencing decision.

READ MORE: Guilty verdict for London police officer in death of Debra Chrisjohn By Staff 980 CFPL

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Pomerance noted that the Crown and defence’s proposed sentences were far apart.

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The Crown is seeking a 20- to a 30-month jail term, while the defence argued Doering should receive a three-year suspended sentence and three years’ probation.

The defence argued for the suspended sentence because Doering is a first-time offender, and he would lose his job if he had to spend any time in jail.

For the last three years, Doering has remained a police officer but on administrative duties.

“He should be doing jail time because this was a life, this was my sister’s life,” Debra’s sister Cindy Chrisjohn told reporters after the hearing.

“He should be going to jail and he should not even be working as a police offer after his conviction.”

Debra, of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, died of cardiac arrest due to drugs after being transferred from the custody of London police to OPP.

Three of Debra’s sisters and two of her 11 children submitted victim impact statements to the court.

The Crown read out loud four of the statements, and the fifth was read by Cindy.

“I drive past this intersection with tears streaming down my face thinking of how close I am to the hospital right now and how easily a seven-minute drive could have saved her life,” Cindy said in her statement.

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“The last moments of my sister’s life are etched into my mind, and I can constantly hear my sister’s last moments and hear her dying breaths, and there is nothing more I want than to have been in that police car with you, so you are not alone.”

READ MORE: ‘We are seeking justice for Debra Chrisjohn, not just a slap on the wrist’

Following the family’s statements, Doering read a brief statement of his own to the judge, also addressing Debra’s family and community.

“I realize there is nothing I can do or say to go back to change the events of that day, but what I can tell you is there has not been a day that has gone by where I have not thought of Debra and wished that she were here today.”

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Cindy said she doesn’t believe Doering meant what he said.

“His statement was so short; I did not feel that sense of truth in that short statement that he made.”

A tentative day for Pomerance to announce her decision on Doering’s sentence is set for March 16 at 10 a.m. pending approval in the assignment court on Feb. 11.

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