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Sentencing in case surrounding London, Ont., explosion begins Thursday

Daniella Leis, 24, is photographed by media as she leaves a London, Ont., courthouse on Oct. 2, 2019. Andrew Graham / Global

The case surrounding 2019’s gas explosion in London, Ont., returns to court on Thursday with a sentencing scheduled for Daniella Leis, but her lawyer says he does not expect a decision will be made at that time.

The explosion took place on the night of Aug. 14, 2019, inside London’s historic Old East Village. In October 2020, Leis pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Read more: Londoners who lost homes react to guilty plea in Old East Village explosion

According to an agreed statement of facts read during Leis’ last court appearance, the explosion occurred after the 24-year-old Kitchener woman had crashed a grey Ford Fusion into a home at 450 Woodman Ave.

The crash saw the vehicle strike a gas line, which then sparked a massive explosion that completely levelled one home, left two other homes so badly damaged they had to be demolished and resulted in the evacuation of an entire neighbourhood.

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Two firefighters and two police officers suffered numerous injuries as a result.

Click to play video: 'Woman who lost home in London, Ont. explosion reacts to guilty plea' Woman who lost home in London, Ont. explosion reacts to guilty plea
Woman who lost home in London, Ont. explosion reacts to guilty plea – Oct 22, 2020

In an interview ahead of Thursday’s sentencing, Leis’ lawyer Richard Braiden told Global News he does not expect a decision will be made.

“I believe that’s the reason that submissions are being made by Zoom because his honour will be adjourning the matter to consider the submissions by crown and defence before rendering a decision on the sentence,” Braiden said.

The defence lawyer added that while it’s hard to predict what a judge will decide, both he and the Crown have agreed that jail is required for the type of offence to which Leis pleaded guilty.

“His honour will have to determine what length of jail is appropriate in these circumstances,” Braiden said.

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Read more: $2.5-million lawsuit launched in wake of Old East Village explosion

Meanwhile, five Londoners whose homes were damaged in the blast have launched a lawsuit seeking a collective $2.5 million. The list of plaintiffs does not include 450 Woodman Ave.’s Karen Fisher.

In a statement of claim obtained by Global News, the Londoners allege the crash itself and “the resulting injuries and losses suffered by the Plaintiffs arose solely as a result of the negligence of the Defendants.”

The defendants are listed as Daniella Leis; her father Shawn Leis; Budweiser Gardens; the City of London; Spectra, which provides venue management for Budweiser Gardens; Ovations Ontario Food Services Inc.; an unidentified security company; and two unidentified Budweiser Gardens employees.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

Click to play video: 'Residents return to aftermath of London explosion' Residents return to aftermath of London explosion
Residents return to aftermath of London explosion – Aug 16, 2019

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