Drunk driving sentence to serve as deterrent to others: judge

Jinghao Zhou pleaded guilty in May to impaired driving causing death after running a red light at 188 kilometres an hour before slamming into Gloria Chiver's car at Richmond Street and Sunningdale Road. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Justice Thomas McKay said Jinghao Zhou committed a "selfish and dangerous" act but believed he was remorseful

Jinghao Zhou has caused himself, his family, and his country great shame, a judge ruling on the tragic death of a London newspaper carrier told the accused and the victim's family before handing down a tough sentence. 

Jinghao Zhou, 24, who pleaded guilty in May to impaired driving and immigration charges after his rental SUV slammed head-on into Gloria Chivers' car on Sunningdale Road, learned he will serve a seven-year sentence Friday. 

"His actions were selfish and dangerous, and his driving was outrageous," Justice Thomas McKay said during Zhou's sentencing hearing. 

"He has shown genuine remorse. He appears to understand the impact his actions have had on the Chivers family, on his family, and on himself."

In court, Zhou stared mostly at the floor as the judge read his decision. His parents, who have come to Canada on a 10-year visa to support their son, sat behind him, their heads bowed.

All three appeared to be listening to the Mandarin-language interpreter. Zhou will be deported as soon as he gets parole, and his parents will follow him back to their homeland. 

Also in court were siblings and other family members of Chivers, who was getting set to deliver The London Free Press on the morning of Nov. 24, 2016.

The 60-year-old was stopped at a red light on Sundingdale Road at Richmond Street, when Zhou's SUV, travelling 188 km/h -- as fast as the vehicle could go -- plowed into her. The brakes were never applied, the court heard. 

The force sent her steering wheel into the back seat. Zhou's car then travelled over Chivers' vehicles and landed 50 metres away. 

Victim's husband too distraught for court 

"I was overwhelmed by the whole thing," said Ruth Summerhill, Chivers' sister, who wept in court as some new facts were revealed. "My brother and I are very happy with the sentence, and we're glad it's over." 
Ruth Summerhill speaks outside of court after the sentencing of Jinghao Zhou, the drunk driver who killed her sister, Gloria Chivers.

Chivers' husband, Chris, is also glad the case is finished, Summerhill said. He was unable to attend court because he is too emotionally distraught. 

"I believe that [Zhou] was very remorseful and my heart goes out to him and his family. He didn't go purposely out to kill Gloria that night," Summerhill said. "He made a fateful error that has caused shame to him and his family and his country." 

"He will have to live with that and we will have to live with the fact that we've lost our one and only sister Gloria." 

Lawyer 'disappointed'

Zhou's blood alcohol was more than twice the legal limit and he was living in Canada illegally. He'd forged documents to get a work permit and then again to get a business in London. 

"Canada prides itself as an open society that welcomes immigrants. When someone defrauds that system, it has the ability to [hurt that trust] and make Canadians less likely to accept immigrants and refugees," said McKay. 

He gave Zhou a sentence of one year for each of the two immigration charges he faced, one to be served on top of the six years handed down for drunk driving.

The impaired driving charge, on the high end of the legal spectrum, was given to serve as a general deterrent to others, McKay said. 

Jim Dean, Zhou's lawyer, said he was disappointed with the sentence but understood it. 

"My client said, in his own words, that he needs to go back (to China) and respects what he's done and the obligations that he has, and will try to make the most of his life," Dean said. "Hopefully he'll follow through with getting more schooling." 

Zhou was also given a 10-year driving ban.