Rodney Arens sentenced to nearly six years in prison

Before leaving the courtroom, he says "File my appeal"

  • Jun. 25, 2014 3:02 p.m.

Nearly four years after a fatal collision caused a 13-year-old boy to lose his life in 2010, the man charged in relation to his death has been sentenced.

Last Thursday, Rodney Arens, 36, of Red Deer, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison. He was given credit for 185 days for time served before and during the trial. His sentence also included a driving prohibition for 10 years.

Before leaving the courtroom, Arens said, “File my appeal.”

Earlier last week, Justice Kirk Sisson found Arens guilty of impaired driving

causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and breach of recognizance.

He was also charged with three charges of refusing to provide a breathalyzer sample. During the trial, the crown issued a stay of proceedings in regards to those three charges. Those charges were dropped.

In 2010, police said Anouluck ‘Jeffrey’ Chanminaraj, 13, was riding in a Honda Civic with his then 18-year-old brother Jamie and 20-year-old sister Stephanie, who was driving, at about 11 p.m. on Canada Day when a Dodge Ram pick-up truck crashed into the passenger side of the car.

Their car was turning left through the intersection of Taylor Dr. and Kerry Wood Dr. when it was struck by the pick-up truck. The siblings were on their way to see the Canada Day fireworks.

Jeffrey was pronounced dead at the scene.

During sentencing submission last week, Crown Prosecutor Wayne Silliker sought six years in prison for Arens with a 10-year driving prohibition. Defense lawyer Donna Derie-Gillespie said that a four-year sentence and a five to 10-year driving prohibition would be appropriate.

Before handing down his sentence Sisson said, “Jeffrey’s loss will never be forgotten.”

He said the sentence would act as a deterrent for Arens and for others in the community who may look at this case and see what could happen to them if they chose the same actions.

“It is to promote in you a sense of responsibility for your actions,” Sisson told Arens. “It appears you went to great lengths to not take responsibility for your actions and that your self-destructive behaviour continued after you caused the death of a 13-year-old boy on Canada Day in 2010.”

Arens also offered an apology in court before the sentence was handed down.

“I’m very sorry to the family for the loss and that I was involved in such a tragic event. I remember the day like it was yesterday. This has had an impact on me also.”

Sisson said that while he thought Arens’ apology was sincere, he thought that Arens felt sorry for himself.

Four victim impact statements were entered into the record, but were not read aloud in court. There were also character letters on behalf of Arens that were entered into the record. Two of those letters were from his daughters.

“The letters from your daughters broke my heart,” said Sisson. “But the fact remains you have brought this on yourself.”

Arens’ driving record and criminal record were also entered which showed he had an impaired driving offense in 1997. In 2010, before the July 1st collision, he was charged with a breach of undertaking to a peace officer and possession of an illegal substance. He was also charged with possession of an illegal substance, uttering threats and probation violation following the collision.

In 2011, Arens was charged with breaching his undertaking by consuming alcohol and in 2014 he was charged with two more breaches of a court order by consuming alcohol and operating a vehicle without an interlock system – he was sentenced to 60 days in jail for these charges.

Last December he was also charged with impaired care or control of a motor vehicle, obstructing an officer and resisting arrest, failing to comply with conditions and drug related charges after an incident in Sylvan Lake. A date for trial on these matters has been set for January.

During sentencing submission, Silliker said there is a distinction between the impaired driving charges and the dangerous driving charges and the sentence should reflect as much.

“As soon as the accused got behind the wheel, he was guilty of the impaired. The dangerous driving offence was committed when he accelerated into a busy intersection.”

Silliker added Arens’ post offense conduct was also troubling.

“The accused knew there was a serious motor vehicle collision. He knew there was a death and he knew someone was seriously injured. He tried to cover up his wrongdoing by asking a friend to lie. He had a lack of insight in that he continued to drink alcohol and drive despite court orders,” he said. “He has a lack of remorse. The accused was on a court order at the time of the offense. He had a cavalier attitude towards the court order and he had a cavalier attitude against all of his release conditions.”

Derie-Gillespie said almost all of Arens’ actions and mistakes came from the mental impairment. “It was a split second accident that had no aspect of dangerous driving. There was no erratic driving pattern beforehand.”

Meanwhile, she said Arens has suffered since the collision took place.

“Mr. Arens was a hardworking, productive member of society. He was framing and owned his own business. He had a nice life. Now, his social life, family life have been affected and this is no longer the case.”

She added Arens is also worried about his reputation in the community.

“His name now means something it didn’t mean four years ago. He wonders how he is going to be able to work and how he will be able to walk around and have any kind of life,” said Derie-Gillespie.

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