Montreal

'We have lost a shining star,' mother, sister of boy killed in police collision tell Longueuil court

The mother and sister of Nicholas Thorne-Belance read their victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing of SQ officer Patrick Ouellet at the Longueuil courthouse Monday.

Nicholas Thorne-Belance's family recount their loss at sentencing hearing of SQ officer Patrick Ouellet

Nicholas Thorne-Belance loved to dance. His mother and sister gave victim impact statements at Patrick Ouellet's sentencing hearing, telling the court they are still grappling with his death. (Court exhibit)

The loss of five-year-old Nicholas Thorne-Belance threw a family into a chasm of grief so deep, his family is still dealing with the repercussions every day.

The mother and sister of the young boy read their victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing of Sûreté du Québec officer Patrick Ouellet at the Longueuil courthouse Monday.

In July 2018, Ouellet was found guilty of dangerous driving causing the boy's death.

In February 2014, Ouellet was in an unmarked police cruiser tailing a suspect at more than 100 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, when he struck and killed Thorne-Belance in Saint-Hubert, Que.

"It was a complete nightmare," said Stephanie Thorne, Nicholas's mother.

Crown prosecutor Geneviève Langlois and defence lawyer Nadine Touma submitted a joint sentencing recommendation of eight months in prison, followed by a one-year ban on driving.

Quebec court Judge Éric Simard is expected to render his decision Nov. 20. 

Last goodbye

In her statement Tuesday, she described the morning before the collision, saying it was a standard morning in their home: her daughter Dalia was getting ready for school, and Nicholas, nicknamed Nikki, was preparing for daycare.

She remembered that morning he needed help putting on his pants. She kissed him on the forehead and told him she loved him.

"I then said bye to everyone and went on my way to work, not knowing that it would be the last time my eyes would ever look into Nicholas's eyes again," she said.

Nicholas Thorne-Belance died in hospital five days after a speeding unmarked police cruiser crashed into his father's vehicle in which he was a backseat passenger. (CBC)

Later that morning, she received a call at her office from a police officer informing her that her husband and two children had been in a car accident. Soon after, she was told that Nicholas's head injuries were so severe, doctors couldn't operate.

"My husband wasn't speaking, and I kept crying and crying," she said.

Nicholas lived for several days following the collision. His mother stayed with him in the hospital during that time.

"I held his hand and prayed and kept telling him how much I loved him, and I needed him to be OK," she said. 

"I even found myself rubbing underneath his feet ... hoping to see a twitch or any possible reaction. But there was none."

Following the boy's death, the family was thrust into grief.

Thorne, her husband and their teenage daughter, Dalia Thorne-Joseph, were all diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"To this day, I still find it hard to hear about my brother," said Thorne-Joseph, who is now 18 years old.

"I struggle to enjoy things which I used to love."

Thorne said when Nicholas died, the world lost a charismatic, happy and sweet kid, who loved putting on dance shows in their kitchen.

"We have lost a shining star," she said.

With files from Elias Abboud

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