Fate of truck driver in Humboldt bus crash will test sentencing system: experts

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu admitted he caused the collision that killed 16 people and injured 13

A legal expert says the punishment for the truck driver responsible for the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash will put Canada’s sentencing provisions to the test.

Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said she believes it will be difficult for a judge to arrive at a proportionate sentence for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.

“It’s a real test of our sentencing regime,” said Quaid. “This is sort of the nightmare scenario where you have a mixture of … factors that point in different directions if you look at our sentencing law.”

Sidhu admitted he caused the collision that killed 16 people and injured 13 when he barrelled through a stop sign in his transport truck at a rural Saskatchewan intersection last April. Sidhu was not hurt.

He pleaded guilty to 29 dangerous driving charges and is to be sentenced March 22.

In a sentencing hearing this week, the Crown argued Sidhu should serve 10 years in prison and be banned from driving for 10 years. The defence, although citing cases with shorter sentences, did not propose a specific alternative.

Judge Inez Cardinal’s task will be to find a sentence that strikes a balance between the consequences of the offence and the blameworthiness of the offender, said Quaid.

READ MORE: Crown wants truck driver sentenced to 10 years in Broncos crash

While Sidhu pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, it was not a hit and run, he wasn’t impaired, nor was he speeding, or texting and driving, Quaid noted.

On the other hand, she said, the outcome of his actions was horrific.

“On the one side you got terrible consequences. On the other side you have a mistake that is not the worst of the mistakes,” she said.

“What’s the right answer?”

She believes the Crown is taking a hard line in proposing a 10-year prison sentence.

“It doesn’t seem proportionate to his moral blameworthiness,” said Toronto criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown. “It doesn’t seem proportionate to his actions.”

Brown said determining a proper sentence for Sidhu will be challenging because the judge lacks comparable cases.

He also said the typical signs of bad driving are missing. That makes it tough to craft a sentence that discourages people from a specific action, such as drinking and driving.

“How do we deter other people from missing stop signs?” Brown said.

“He wasn’t distracted by his cellphone,” he said. ”He simply missed the traffic signal.”

Both Quaid and Brown said another significant factor Cardinal must weigh is Sidhu’s guilty plea.

“This is a person who has exactly the reaction that we hope … every person convicted or found guilty of a crime would have — to have this deep reflection, this absolute acceptance of responsibility,” Quaid said.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hee-Won Son takes home gold in 500m Female Short Track Speed Skating

Team Alberta sits in second place overall at the Canada Winter Games

Alberta’s Pascale Paradis earns bronze in 7.5 km Female Biathlon

Canada Games action carries through to March 2nd

Alberta earns three medals in Long Track Speed Skating

Alberta now has 16 medals (6-5-5) and currently sits in second place of the medal standings

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

Shots fired in Maskwacis home invasion

Maskwacis RCMP are searching for three suspects in a home invasion (with photos)

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Crude-by-rail shipments set new record in December despite lower price discounts

Canada exported nearly 354,000 barrels per day of oil, up seven per cent from November

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

Maskwacis woman dead, Wetaskiwin man charged with murder

RCMP Major Crimes Unit charge male with first degree murder

Market volatility, mortgages loom over upcoming earnings of Canada’s big banks

Central bank interest hikes have padded the banks’ net interest margins

Most Read