MADD applauds 10-year sentence for drunk driving death
Moncton judge gives Boyd Atkinson what may be N.B.'s stiffest penalty for impaired driving causing death
A member of the southeastern chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says she is encouraged by the lengthy sentence for impaired driving causing death handed to a Lakeville man on Thursday in Moncton.
Boyd Reginald Atkinson, 42, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and banned from driving for life in connection with a fatal drunk driving collision last spring.
Kathy Horsman, a 36-year-old Moncton school teacher and single mother of two from Berry Mills, was killed in the head-on collision on Killam Drive on April 17.
"A 10-year sentence is not a slap on the wrist," said Rhonda O'Blenis, president for southeastern New Brunswick chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Atkinson previously pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. He was highly intoxicated that night — more than three times over the legal limit — was travelling at a dangerously high rate of speed and was driving with a suspended licence, the court was told.
A 10-year sentence is not a slap on the wrist.- Rhoda O'Blenia, president of Southeastern N.B.
Atkinson crossed more than two lanes of traffic before hitting Horsman's vehicle head-on, said Crown prosecutor Stephen Holt.
"We are moving into sentences that are higher because I believe that not just the public, I think the courts are also frustrated with this segment of the population that continues to drink and drive."
Sentence may be toughest handed down in N.B.
Atkinson had four previous alcohol-related offences and had been through an alcohol recovery program.
The Crown believes it is one of the strictest sentences handed down in New Brunswick for such crimes.
O'Blenis said the sentence fits the crime.
"For sure in Moncton, in the 10 years I've been volunteering with MADD, it's the longest I have seen, and it does reflect the gravity of the crime that took place, and the consequences of that in the loss to the victim and her family," she said.
Judge James McNamee called the fatal crash a "catastrophic event" and said a message must be delivered to the public about the serious consequences of drinking and driving.
Atkinson apologized to Horsman's family, but the judge said that was "cold comfort."
"I really can't imagine what it's like to get up one morning and realize you've destroyed so many people's lives," said O'Blenis. "At the same time, he made a very conscious choice, whether he was impaired or not.
"He knew he's been down this road before, he knew he should not be driving, he's been told by the court not to drink and drive … It's just unfortunate that this is what it's taken."
Horsman left behind a 16-year-old daughter, and eight-year-old son. She was just about to start a full-time teaching job, and was described as being on the cusp of her life.
With time served, Atkinson's sentence works out to nine years and 5 months.
Impaired driving causing death carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The charge of impaired driving causing bodily harm is related to a passenger in Atkinson's car.