Scarborough family hurt in hit-and-run upset plea deal proceeded without their knowledge, accused released

Click to play video: 'Scarborough family speaks out after hit-and-run plea deal'
Scarborough family speaks out after hit-and-run plea deal
WATCH ABOVE: As Catherine McDonald reports, one of two men charged with fleeing the scene of a fail-to-remain collision pleaded guilty and they said they were not notified until after the offender had finished serving his sentence – May 11, 2020

Rodelyn Dewell says she was shaking when a probation officer called her on Tuesday and told her that Jeremiah Cook, one of two men accused in a fail-to-remain collision that left her, her 20-month-old son, and her 58-year mother with serious injuries, was out of jail.

“It’s not fair. Why’d you tell us now? It’s been almost two weeks,” Dewell said she remembered telling the probation officer who was calling to tell her the conditions of Cook’s release.

Dewell said she was unaware that the 41-year-old was released from custody ten days earlier, on April 25, after he finished serving his sentence. She and her husband said they were shocked given that they didn’t even know Cook had pleaded guilty.

The couple said they were called by the detective in charge of the case around March 20, who notified them that the Crown attorney had asked for victim impact statements to be prepared given there was a chance that Cook might plead guilty in April.

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But the Dewells said no one ever called them back despite the fact they were prepared to deliver their impact statements.

“She put a lot of effort into writing it and had to sift through a lot of bad memories to get that done on paper because she was asked to do it and it wasn’t even utilized,” said Dewell’s frustrated husband, Brent.

Court records obtained by Global News found that Cook pleaded guilty on April 6 to five charges, including accessory after the fact and accessory after the fact failing to stop.

Police alleged that on Oct. 13, 2019, Cook was a passenger in a car being driven by co-accused Derek Desousa. The car mounted the curb at the corner of Pharmacy Avenue and Ellesmere Road, striking Dewell and her toddler who was in a baby stroller.

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The child and his mother were thrown some distance. Dewell’s mother was also injured in the collision.

Investigators said both men got out of the vehicle before Cook jumped into the driver’s seat and fled the scene. Police alleged Desousa ran off.

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Nearly two months later, both men were arrested after a Canada-wide warrant was issued for their arrest.

The couple said they don’t blame the officer in charge of the case because she said she was also unaware that Cook had pleaded out, telling them that no one from the Crown’s office called her back.

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“There’s always more rights for the criminals in criminal proceedings than the victims. I mean what was done for the victims here?” Brent said.

Brian Gray, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General’s Office, responded to the situation in a statement to Global News.

“Throughout a criminal proceeding, every effort is made to keep victims informed, particularly with respect to a major development such as a plea resolution,” he said.

“Upon learning of this issue, the Crown quickly took action and met remotely with the victims to provide further information and to advise them of the sentencing proceedings and the related matter that remains before the court.”

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Gray said due to a “miscommunication, some information was not conveyed to the victims in time.” He added that the ministry “regrets” what happened.

Meanwhile, the Dewells said they got a call from the Crown attorney apologizing for what happened but said they still feel the process was unfair given Cook and the judge did not hear the impact the collision had on them.

Rodelyn suffered a broken leg and whiplash and spent a week in the hospital as did her mother, who had two broken legs. Daniel, the couple’s young son, suffered whiplash and had to wear a neck brace for a week.

Cook was sentenced to time served (30 days in jail), 18 months of probation and he received a two-year driving ban. His co-accused, Derek Desousa, remains in custody and is expected to have a bail hearing next week.

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