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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

How to access health care in Princeton during COVID-19 crisis

This article from the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice explains… Continue reading

COLUMN: Local journalism more important than ever before

Response to recent farm worker situation was concerning

YMCA Okanagan offers care for children of essential service workers

Priority will be given to children aged 5 to 12 years old

Kettle Valley Steam Railway cancels Easter trains

Decision comes as a result of COVID-19 pandemic

Pink supermoon lights up night sky in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Largest and brightest full moon of the year was most visible on April 7

UPDATE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The CRA and federal officials are working to clarify the confusion around payments

COVID-19: B.C. students describe life during pandemic

Most teens wonder what the future will be like after COVID-19

Easter Bunny added to B.C.’s list of essential workers

Premier John Horgan authorizes bunny to spread “eggs-ellent cheer” throughout province

Travellers returning to B.C. must have self-isolation plan or face quarantine: Horgan

Premier John Horgan says forms must be filled out by travellers

Major crimes investigating sudden death of North Okanagan child

The 8 year old was flown to Kelowna General Hospital and died hours later

More than 400 animals have been adopted amid pandemic: B.C. SPCA

People are taking this time of social distancing to find a loyal companion through the animal welfare group

Appointments available at Summerland after hours clinic

Telephone and video communications will be provided during COVID-19 pandemic

Fire on evening of April 7 reported near Pyramid Provincial Park

A small wildfire near Pyramid Provincial Park south of Summerland is under… Continue reading

Most Read