Crown suggests 8-10 year sentence for driver of stolen trailer that killed Brampton cyclist

Click to play video: 'Man found guilty in fatal Brampton hit-and-run'
Man found guilty in fatal Brampton hit-and-run
RELATED: Man found guilty in fatal Brampton hit-and-run (2021) – Oct 27, 2021

Pritpal Lehl sat in the prisoner’s box in a small Brampton, Ont., courtroom, with a medical mask covering his face, as Paul De Pledge’s sister-in-law spoke about why Aug. 1, 2018 was the worst day of her life.

“This was the day that Pritpal Lehl was driving, striking, dragging and killing an innocent cyclist on the way,” said Keyden Gordon.

“I constantly replay the events of that day in my head like it was an episode of the First 48,” Gordon continued, explaining how she’s been tortured daily knowing someone left her brother-in-law scared and alone, to die. “How could any person leave another person squashed against a wall, pleading for help, gasping for air and drive away?”

Read more: Judge finds man guilty of hit-and-run, criminal negligence in Brampton cyclist death

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The impact statement of Colin De Pledge, one of Paul’s older brothers, was read out by Assistant Crown Attorney Amy Mountjoy. Colin, who shared a love of cycling with his younger sibling. described Paul as an experienced cyclist who was fit and extremely particular about road safety.

“He was a fantastic person, gentle, generous and kind. He was my best friend,” wrote Colin who sat in the body of the courtroom looking at the ceiling as his victim impact statement was read aloud, with tears running down his face.

“The offender chose to break bail, do drugs and take a course that would end my brother’s life. He hit the brakes for a split second. Sadly that split second defines him in a cowardly hit and run,” De Pledge wrote.

Click to play video: 'Trial begins for man accused of killing Brampton cyclist in a 2018 hit-and-run'
Trial begins for man accused of killing Brampton cyclist in a 2018 hit-and-run

Last October, after a two-week trial, Justice David E. Harris found 44-year-old Lehl guilty of criminal negligence causing death, failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing death, and two counts of failing to comply with bail conditions.

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On Aug. 1, 2018 at 6 a.m. Lehl was driving a white cargo van on Summerlea Road and Walker Drive in Brampton when an open-air trailer that he had just stolen became detached from the van, striking De Pledge. The cyclist was dragged onto the curb and across a grassy area before being pinned between the trailer and a commercial building.

Lehl drove off in the van. It was recovered about six kilometres away and witnesses reported seeing two people fleeing on a motorcycle. Lehl was arrested more than three months later. At the time of the crash, he was out on bail for two charges including aggravated assault. As part of the conditions of his release, he had a strict curfew and was ordered to have no contact with his ex-girlfriend.

Read more: Trial begins for man accused of hit-and-run, criminal negligence causing death of Brampton cyclist

In her submissions, Mountjoy suggested that a sentence of eight to ten years and a five-year driving ban would be appropriate, calling what happened to De Pledge “a predictable and objectively foreseeable” tragedy.

Video surveillance shown at trial captured Lehl hooking up the trailer in less than a minute. Mountjoy said there was a level of negligence in hooking up the ball hitch and said Lehl completely failed to use safety chains. Further, Mountjoy argued that Lehl, who was travelling at a significant speed, failed to stop when he must have known and felt what happened to the trailer when it became dislodged.

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Click to play video: 'Man found guilty in fatal Brampton hit-and-run'
Man found guilty in fatal Brampton hit-and-run

“The van came to a brief stop before speeding off. No assistance was rendered. 911 was not called. Paul De Pledge was left for two hours before he was discovered,” Mountjoy told the court. She noted that video showed Lehl also tried to conceal his involvement in the offence afterwards by attempting to clean the van before abandoning it. The video also showed Lehl removing the license plate. It was found inside the van.

Mountjoy siad that while Lehl was not charged with impaired driving causing death, and impairment was never proven, there is a strong inference he was, given he fled the scene.

The Crown also pointed out that in March, Lehl was re-arrested for breaching one of the conditions of his house arrest, despite wearing an ankle monitor. She said that again showed a flagrant disregard for court orders. Lehl remains in custody.

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Defence lawyer Ayesha Abbasi has asked for a sentence in the range of five to six years. The Crown suggested Lehl’s credit for pretrial custody would be roughly four years. Defence suggested his pretrial custody should be five to six years and will have served his full time by sentencing.

The judge will hand down his sentence in October.

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