Impaired, speeding driver who killed Mississauga grandfather sentenced to 5 years in prison

Rustico Gamat was killed when the car he was driving was struck by an impaired driver. Gamat family

A 35-year-old Milton man who was impaired by alcohol and MDMA and drove his BMW sports car at excessive speed causing a crash which left a grandfather dead, and seriously injured another man, has been sentenced to five years in jail and a six-year driving ban.

“Too many people make the terrible decision to get into their cars after drinking alcohol. They make risky choices. They go fast. They race. The consequences can be nothing short of tragic for all who are impacted: People are killed and are permanently injured, the lives of their families and friends … because someone else’s poor choices needlessly took from them something that can never be replaced,” said Madam Justice Jennifer Woollcombe in handing down Azar Sheikh’s sentence via zoom on Wednesday.

Sheikh was found guilty of impaired operation, criminal negligence and dangerous operation causing the death of 66-year-old Rustico “Otie” Gamat and impaired operation, criminal negligence and dangerous operation causing bodily harm to 58-year-old Diosdada Pascual after the judge-alone trial in March.

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Read more: Man charged with impaired driving causing death after fatal 2-vehicle crash in Mississauga

It was shortly after 1 a.m. on Sept.14, 2017 when Sheikh’s BMW collided with a Toyota Highlander being driven by Pascual at the intersection of Mavis and Bristol roads in Mississauga.

Pascual and Gamat were driving home from work at the Chrysler MOPAR plant in Brampton, where they had worked for years, court heard.

Woollcombe found that Sheikh had a blood alcohol content of at least 70 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood and likely higher as he drove northbound on Mavis Road. She found he was also trying to engage other drivers to race with him.

“He was trying to show off his BMW sports car and it’s powerful engine,” said Woollcombe. At the time of the collision, Sheikh was driving 112 km/hr in a 70 km/hr zone. The Highlander being driven by Pascual was turning eastbound onto Bristol Road.

Court heard Gamat was pronounced dead at the scene. Pascual suffered life-threatening injuries. Pascual, who was Gamat’s best friend, continues to suffer from severe ongoing physical injuries including a damaged shoulder that cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced. Gamat was married for 47 years and was the binding force of his family and beloved by his children and grandchildren.

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Crown attorney David D’Iorio asked for a sentence of five to six years  and a 10-year driving ban upon completion of Sheikh’s incarceration.

Defence lawyer Amedeo DiCarlo suggested a conditional sentence to be served in the community, followed by a lengthy term of probation and a five-year driving ban would be more appropriate.

Read more: Milton man guilty of impaired driving, criminal negligence causing death of 66-year-old grandfather

Sheikh who has been living under house arrest since being charged and has three prior convictions for speeding and two convictions for disobeying signs.

Woollcombe noted Sheikh has already been prohibited from driving for three years and ten months since the fatal collision and has complied with the terms of his release including abstaining from alcohol.

“While I did not hear him apologize, he did acknowledge the hurt he has caused,” said Woollcombe, adding she believes Sheikh is remorseful for what happened.

Woollcombe noted Sheikh also lost his job as a marketing manager and his relationship with his fiancé ended as a result of the criminal charges.

Sheikh was sentenced to five years in prison for the charges of impaired operation causing death, criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation causing death to be served concurrently with a four-year sentence for each of the charges of impaired operation causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous operation causing bodily harm. He was also ordered to submit his DNA.

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Sheikh will surrender into custody on Thursday.

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