Saskatoon

Crown's suggestion of 10-year sentence in Humboldt Broncos crash is 'harsh': professor

A law professor at the University of Ottawa says it's difficult to know what sentence Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will receive after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu says inexperience played a role in crash that killed 16 people and injured 13

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of the semi truck involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, will be sentenced in March. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

A law professor at the University of Ottawa says it's difficult to know what sentence Jaskirat Singh Sidhu will receive after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death.

Last year, Sidhu's semi drove through a stop sign into the path of the Humboldt Broncos team bus. Sixteen people died and 13 were injured in the resulting crash.

Sidhu, who was working for a Calgary-based trucking company at the time, pleaded guilty last month to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death or and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing injury.

During a sentencing hearing, the Crown prosecutor asked for a 10-year sentence for Sidhu with a further 10-year driving prohibition afterwards.

"I think it's harsh," Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.  "In light of the circumstances, it's understandable that the Crown might have decided to go with a position that's fairly stern. But, yeah, I think it's harsh."

Prosecutor Thomas Healey argued the number of fatalities in the crash should be considered in Sidhu's sentence, as well as the fact he did not stop at a highway intersection, despite numerous warning signs.

Defence lawyer Mark Brayford did not offer a concrete number of years he believed Sidhu should serve, but noted some past dangerous driving causing death cases were the sentencing range ran from two to four years.

Quaid said Brayford's strategy may have been led by Sidhu himself.

"It fits into a pattern throughout the process of Mr. Sidhu simply saying, 'I can't make up for this. I'm just going to try to make this process as easy as possible for everyone,' " she said. "My interpretation is he said, 'I'll just take the punishment you give me.' "

Judge Inez Cardinal reserved her decision until March. Quaid said the judge will have to carefully consider the effects of the crime.

"The biggest component of that is the catastrophic consequences — 16 lives lost and 13 lives altered forever by injuries," Quaid said. 

The judge will also have to consider Sidhu's moral capability as well.

"He pleaded guilty and he also expressed himself quite eloquently and emotionally," she said. "Those factors have to count in his favour."

The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is a 14-year prison sentence.

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