British Columbia

Surrey man who killed 2, injured 1 in high-speed crash gets 20-month sentence

Nicolas Karvouniaris was going 167 km/h in the moments before his Jeep crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a Ford Escape carrying three women.

Families of victims angry over light sentence handed to man with a history of traffic violations

Friends and family embrace outside Surrey Provincial Court after the sentencing of Nicolas Karvouniaris. Karvouniaris was sentenced to 20 months for killing two women and injuring another in a 2018 high speed crash. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The families of two women who were killed and another who was badly injured by a speeding driver are angry over the  20-month prison sentence the man received as part of a plea deal. 

The father of deceased victim Sarah Dhillon said he was hoping Nicolas Karvouniaris would get 10 years.

"We don't want this guy to spend the rest of his life in jail but we want to feel that there is accountability for actions," said Troy Demmitt outside of court. "We can't even begin to put into words how lost we feel." 

Dhillon's husband, an officer with the Abbotsford Police Department, also spoke outside the courthouse.

Troy Demmitt, the father of crash victim Sarah Dhillon, speaks to media outside Surrey Provincial Court after the sentencing of Nicolas Karvouniaris. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"I told my children that nothing was going to equal their loss. I told them the first day and I told them that over and over again. And it's just true," said Paul Dhillon.

Karvouniaris pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death, and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Crown had recommended a two year sentence in exchange for the guilty plea, but the judge gave him 20 months for each count to be served concurrently, three years probation and a five-year driving ban.

Crossed into oncoming traffic

The 25-year-old Surrey man was the lone occupant of a Jeep Cherokee that crossed the centre median and hit a Ford Escape head-on just after midnight on Nov. 4, 2018, on 88th Avenue in Surrey.

Abbotsford police officer Paul Dhillon, husband of crash victim Sarah Dhillon, outside Surrey Provincial Court. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Sarah Dhillon, 50, a maternity nurse and mother of three, died at the scene. She was driving the Ford.

Paige Nagata, the 25-year-old girlfriend of Dhillon's son, died of her injuries two weeks later.

A third woman, Olivia Kilian, suffered permanent and life-altering injuries.

The president of advocacy group Families for Justice said dangerous drivers like Karvouniaris are getting off too easily, and the legal system is becoming increasing unjust to victims, because the concept of precedence is leading to lighter and lighter sentences.

"This sentence is a joke," said Markita Kaulius. "He's not going to serve the full [term], he'll be out in six to eight months."

167 km/h 

The court heard that Karvouniaris was driving 167 km/h in the moments before the collision, and 123 km/h upon impact.

Nicolas Karvouniaris was going 167 km/h in the moments before he crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a car with three women. Two of the women died, the third has permanent injuries. Karvouniaris has been sentenced to 20 months in prison. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

The court heard how Karvouniaris sometimes tried to cope with anger by getting in his car and driving aggressively. 

Online court records show Karvouniaris has a history of driving infractions, including five speeding violations, two for driving contrary to restrictions, one for running a red light, and one for disobeying a traffic signal. 

Sarah Dhillon, 50, was killed at the scene of the collision. (Submitted by family)

According to Kaulius, Kilian continues to suffer the effects of the collision, which left her with broken ribs, a spleen that had to be removed, and loss of vision in one eye. She also suffered two strokes while in hospital and has lost partial use of her left arm and is no longer able to live on her own.

Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the 20 month sentence was appropriate given everything the judge had to consider.

"The Crown and courts are bound to impose a sentence that is restrained and principled and that properly and objectively applies the sentencing principles," said McLaughlin.

With files from Deborah Goble

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