Inmate with 'shocking' drunk driving record dies in hospital

A man who was doing time for his 19th drinking and driving conviction has died, prison officials say

A man who was doing time for his 19th drinking and driving conviction has died, prison officials say.

Kenneth Lawrence Obey, 56, was an inmate at the Willow Cree Healing Lodge on the Beardy's and Okemasis reserve near Duck Lake, Sask.

How he died was not revealed, but in a news release issued Friday officials noted Obey's death was in hospital in Regina two days earlier. His family has been notified, the release said.

Sentenced in June

In June, a provincial court judge sentenced Obey to federal prison for his most recent arrest on drinking and driving charges.

According to the court, Obey was pulled over in August of 2012 and had a blood alcohol reading of two and a half times the legal limit for driving.

Judge Barbara Tomkins noted Obey got behind the wheel because his travelling companion, who was supposed to drive, was even more intoxicated than he was.

"Mr. Obey thought it better that he drive," Tomkins said in her decision on sentencing, adding "whether this illustrates Mr. Obey's disregard for the law and the safety of others or is the addled thinking of an intoxicated man, it is troubling."

The judge went on to note "Mr. Obey's record for drinking and driving offences is, frankly, shocking" and listed 18 convictions for impaired driving between 1981 and 2005.

Abused at Indian Residential School

The judge said Obey's drinking and driving problems began after he left an Indian Residential School, where he had been abused as a student.

"He recognizes that he uses alcohol to mask his pain and forget his residential school experience," Tomkins said.

Prior to his arrest in 2012, Obey had been addressing his alcoholism but, according to his lawyer, a large compensation payment for the abuse as a youth drove him over a "psychological cliff", and he returned to his old, destructive habit.

At the time he died, Obey had about two and a half years left on his sentence.

Prison officials said police and the Provincial Coroner have been notified. The Correctional Service of Canada will also review the case.


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