Man accused of killing child in patio crash granted bail
Edmonton family of toddler angered as SUV driver obtains bail
Emotions ran high in a packed Edmonton courthouse Friday as Richard Suter, accused of causing a crash into a restaurant patio that killed a young boy, was granted bail.
Additional security, including seven sheriffs and two police officers, were on hand in the courtroom to help maintain order.
Sage Morin, mother of two-year-old Geo Mounsef, stormed out of the courtroom as Judge Janet Dixon read the decision.
The rest of the family and many supporters followed her out as George Mounsef, Geo’s father, angrily shouted at the closed circuit television screen showing the accused.
"You're a disgrace to your family," he screamed. "Rot in hell."
Geo died on Sunday night after he was pinned by an SUV on a patio in southwest Edmonton.
Suter was arrested at the scene and is charged with impaired operation causing death, refusing to give a breath sample and two counts of impaired operation causing bodily harm.
A publication ban prevents CBC News from reporting the reasons the judge listed for granting the bail.
'Forever in our hearts'
Outside the courthouse, Morin expressed anger at the judge’s decision.
"We, as a community, are disappointed in the outcome of the bail hearing," she said.
"The fact that this man goes home to the comforts of home, while my son lays cold in a funeral home is apparently what is called justice in this country."
Healing from Geo’s death will take a long time, Morin said.
"Our lives will never be the same," she said. "Geo is forever in our hearts."
Morin went on to thank those who had gathered to support her family over the past week, and promised that the family will not give up.
"We will persist in seeking justice for Geo. Hoping that this preventable tragedy will never strike and shatter other families again."
Driver devastated, says lawyer
Suter’s lawyer Dino Bottos said Friday that his client is devastated by the little boy's death.
"My client is very saddened by what happened here," he said. "And he has not begun to deal with this himself."
Speaking outside the court, Bottos called Suter "a decent man, who is grief-stricken himself by what has occurred here."
"He's a stand-up gentleman, a leading member in his business before he retired three years ago. No criminal record. Lived all of his life here in Edmonton. Just a well-rounded, good man," he said.
Bottos said he has some concerns about his client’s safety as he has become the target of physical threats and an angry Facebook campaign.
However, Bottos declined to say what steps have been taken to protect Suter.
Bottos said he plans to strongly challenge the allegation that his client was impaired when Suter goes to trial next month.
"The real issue at trial will be is this a mistake of a criminal nature or was this a mistake of a civil nature," said Bottos.
As he awaits his trial date, Suter has been instructed to abstain from alcohol and will be subject to testing if he is suspected of using alcohol. Should he violate the terms of his bail, he will be charged $1,000.
Additionally, provincial legislation dictates that Suter abstain from driving pending the outcome of his trial for impaired driving.