The driver in a Central Saanich crash that killed one sister and left the other permanently injured was in court for the first day of his sentencing hearing on Tuesday (Dec. 6).
Anthony Thomas was found guilty of six counts, including impaired driving causing death and bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm and causing an accident resulting in death and in bodily harm.
He was driving south down Central Saanich Road on Aug. 17, 2018, when he veered across the roadway and into the opposite boulevard, striking sisters Tracey, 48, and Kim Ward, 51, who were out walking their dogs. Kim was pronounced dead at the scene, while Tracey survived with injuries requiring 24-hour care for the rest of her life.
“It’s difficult for Tracey to reconcile that Kim is gone and (their mother) has described sometimes Tracey is asking her why Kim isn’t visiting her,” Crown lawyer Tim Stokes told a Victoria courtroom on Tuesday.
This has caused the sisters’ mother Ellen to relive the trauma that occurred. “This obviously is a devastating impact on Tracey and (Ellen).”
The Crown is seeking a prison stay of up to five years, with the multiple offence sentences to be served concurrently in that time, and a 10-year driving prohibition. The defence seeks a jail sentence of two years and a conditional stay of proceedings on the dangerous driving and causing an accident offences.
Thomas had methamphetamine, amphetamine and Xanax in his system at the time of the crash, which convinced a trial judge he was impaired and had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Thomas is at times overwhelmed by “guilt, shame, remorse and regret” and he has struggled with depression and other severe mental health issues since the incident.
“He does acknowledge that his actions have caused hurt and anger and he feels like he is to blame for everything,” Stokes said.
The Crown argued aggravating factors in the case included: the time Thomas veered outside his lane; his speed; how he ought to have known he wasn’t in a position to drive after rear-ending another vehicle right before the fatal crash; and how his driving record includes a speeding offence after he hit the sisters.
The defence disputed each of those, saying Thomas veering outside his lane couldn’t be an aggravating factor given his unconscious state – and therefore a lack of intent. The defence added Thomas’ speed was in line with the flow of traffic and there’s limited evidence on what caused the rear-ending that preceded the fatal accident.
The defence said that 48 hours before the crash, Thomas was at his father’s hospital bedside and was told it would likely be the last time he saw his dad conscious.
Both the Crown and defence lawyers agreed an aggravating factor in the case was the devastating impact on the victims and their loved ones.
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