Drunk driver who killed 3 boys in Nelson House collision sentenced for 'morally despicable' actions
Terrence Spence, 13, and Keethan Lobster and Mattheo Moore-Spence, 11, were killed while walking, riding bikes
The drunk driver in a collision that killed three young boys on a northern Manitoba First Nation will spend just under six more years behind bars.
Terrence Spence, 13, and Keethan Lobster and Mattheo Moore-Spence, both 11, were killed on April 28, 2018, when they were hit by a vehicle driving by Todd Linklater, 29, near Nelson House.
The boys were walking and riding their bikes along Provincial Road 620.
Linklater turned himself in to police the following day. He pleaded guilty last December to impaired driving causing death and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.
On Thursday, provincial court Judge Todd Rambow sentenced him to 7½ years in custody, less time served, resulting in a sentence of approximately 72 months going forward.
During his sentencing Thursday in Nelson House — almost 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg — court heard that Linklater was driving back from Thompson with his girlfriend and three other passengers on the night of the accident. He had been drinking.
Linklater's girlfriend warned him to slow down, but he did nothing to avoid or alert the boys on the road, the court was told.
Rambow said Linklater's actions were "morally despicable," and the fact the boys may have been walking in the road is of no consequence.
"He very quickly departed the scene, he did not stop to give them aid or comfort, or call police," the judge said in his decision.
"He left the three young boys mortally wounded lying on the ground. He thought only of himself in those moments."
While Linklater expressed genuine remorse for what he had done, Rambow said he doesn't believe Linklater fully understands how his alcohol abuse impacts his life and decisions.
Until he does so, Rambow said he believes Linklater will continue to be a risk to others.
The 2018 tragedy rocked the northern First Nation and prompted the chief and council of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation to temporarily ban alcohol and work to address safety issues along the road where the boys were killed.
Linklater had a prior conviction for impaired driving. He was fined $1,000 in that case and had his licence suspended for a year.
He also had several other convictions for driving without a licence.
Rambow also noted that at the time of the collision, Linklater was prohibited from drinking or using drugs under a court order.
"Had he been complying with that undertaking, this tragedy would have been averted," he said.
According to a pre-sentence report, Linklater witnessed violence and alcohol abuse growing up, and endured significant trauma because of it, leading him to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms.
"Family members appear to suffer from the cycle of abuse, criminal involvement, and alcoholism that stem from colonization and the residential school system," Rambow noted.
Linklater has been in jail since his arrest on April 29, 2018. In addition to time in custody, he will be prohibited from driving for 15 years after his release.