New Brunswick

'I will never see him smile': Family of hit-and-run victim presents statements

Joanne Robertson left for work an hour after her husband. She was rerouted because of an accident. She waited for the “I made it to work safe” call, but it never came.

John Ford pleaded guilty to misleading police and leaving the scene of an accident in June

Joanne Robertson said her husband died right before they were meant to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. (Fundy Funeral Home)

Joanne Robertson left for work an hour after her husband. She was rerouted because of an accident. She waited for the "I made it to work safe" call, but it never came.

Scott Robertson, 54, died after his motorcycle collided with a Ford Escape in the early hours of July 9, 2018, on Loch Lomond Road in Saint John. 

John Ford, the man driving the Escape, appeared Monday for a sentencing hearing, where the Robertson family shared their victim impact statements.

In June, Ford pleaded guilty to misleading police officers and to failure to stop at a scene of an accident causing bodily harm or death.

The Crown dropped a charge of dangerous driving causing death.

Robertson, who taught a motorcycle safety course in Saint John, died on July 9, 2018, after a hit-and-run collision. (Fundy Funeral Home)

Robertson's wife, daughter, sister and sister-in-law all read their prepared statements through tears. They described Robertson as stand-up person, a motorcycle driving instructor who believed in safety above everything else. 

"Words can't even describe how incredible my dad truly was," said Kaela Robertson, 24.

"My relationship with him is gone. I will never see him smile or hear him say 'I'm so proud of you,' again" she said.

She said the whole family had a passion for motorcycle safety and taught a safety course together. There's no aspect of her life that was not affected by her father's death, she said.

"Every single waking second of every single day I think of my dad," she said. "It's mentally draining … I'd describe it as half of my brain constantly focused on losing my dad. This takes away from every day-to-day task that I have to continue to do."

I'm angry because I was not allowed to see him or touch him because he was evidence.- Joanne Robertson

Family members described feeling depressed, anxious and distracted. Kaela Robertson said that every day, she mourns that her father won't be there to walk her down the aisle when she gets married.

Joanne Robertson said she still can't sleep and had to take sick leave for nine months.

"I'm angry because I believe my husband's death was preventable," she told the court.

"I'm angry because I was not allowed to see him or touch him because he was evidence. How do you deal with that?"

Scott Robertson's wife, daughter, sister and sister-in-law presented victim impact statements Monday. (Fundy Funeral Home)

She said one of the most difficult things she's done is telling her two children their father died. As she heard her daughter cry over the phone, she felt "nothing I could say could help."

After hearing the victim statements, provincial court Judge Marco Cloutier thanked them, and said he understands how difficult it is to speak in such a setting. However, it's important to remember the charges Ford is facing do not include dangerous driving causing death.

"At least before the criminal court, we're not dealing with an offence of causing the death," Cloutier said. "It is arguable that some words here and there … they may not directly be related to offences in court." 

Agreed facts

In an agreed statement of facts Ford said he was delivering newspapers at around 4:30 a.m. He collided with Robertson and did not attempt to look at what he hit. He did not call 911, and he ran from the scene because he has a criminal record.

Witnesses saw Ford leave the scene on foot, the court heard.

He then came back to the scene in a different car with a woman, Anne-Marie Savoy, who told police she was at the wheel when Robertson was killed. Later, Ford admitted that was a lie.

Still in dispute is whether Ford was travelling in the wrong lane when he collided with Robertson on his motorcycle. Ford said he was crossing lanes to make a left-hand turn, but the Crown is disputing that.

After the victim impact statement the court was shown Ford's police interview. In it, the interrogating officer asked him if he'd been travelling in the wrong lane, just for a second, as a "shortcut."

Robertson was passionate about motorcycle safety, his family said. (Fundy Funeral Home)

Ford denied this. The officer showed him photos of the Ford Escape after the collision. The front was heavily damaged, with the bumper almost falling off. The left side had very little damage.

In the video, Ford said he didn't know what he hit, he simply felt that he hit something and ran off.

The interrogating officer said, "I believe 100 per cent that you knew what you hit," which caused Ford to become angry.

"I'm not a monster," he said. "Only a f--king monster would hit someone and kill someone and walk away."

The sentencing hearing will continue Oct. 10 and 11. The judge will hear more arguments about which way Ford was travelling and decide on a sentence after final arguments are made.