Brent Parent will spend the next five and a half years behind bars and will not be allowed to drive for 12 years for the hit-and-run death of 21-year-old Silas O’Brien.
In front of a full courtroom in New Westminster Supreme Court on Thursday morning, Judge Terence Schultes sentenced Parent, 43, to four years and six months for criminal negligence causing death, nine months for dangerous driving and three months for failing to stay at the scene of an accident.
In his sentencing, Scholtes said vehicles must never be used as instruments of aggression.
The judge found, through the evidence, that Parent did not intend to hit O’Brien, but his actions to swerve his truck towards the three young men on the side of that dark road were “fraught with risk.”
Schultes said he wanted to strike a balance between the Crown’s request to see Parent go away for eight years and the defense’s suggestion of three to four years.
He also hoped that Parent would take advantage of anger management counselling that will be made available to him in jail.
After he was sentenced, O’Brien’s father spoke to the media, saying the sentence was what he expected.
Rodger O’Brien thanked the Crown and Integrated Homicide Investigation Team “for all the work they put into this.”
O’Brien believes it’s unlikely Parent will appeal the sentence.
“We would like to put this all behind us now,” he said of the court proceedings. He hopes the sentence sends a message to Parent who will have a lot of time to think about it while in jail.
O’Brien said his wife chose not to come to the sentencing. Sam Dooley and Luke Stephen, who were on their way to the airport with O’Brien that tragic night in March 2008, attended the sentencing.
In the early morning hours of March 13, 2008, O’Brien, Dooley and Stephen were on their way to a Seattle airport, looking forward to their first vacation to Hawaii.
Parent, who was driving a diesel Ford F350, became enraged when he thought that the Chevy Silverado O’Brien was riding in had deliberately flashed its high beams at him on 16 Avenue. The judge said Parent refused to let them pass, causing the pickup carrying O’Brien and his friends off the road and into a ditch. Parent then returned to the scene, where he swerved towards the young men who were standing on the road shoulder, striking and killing O’Brien.
On the second anniversary of O’Brien’s death, Parent was pulled over by police on 16 Avenue after driving 105 km/h. The speed limit was 60 km/h. He said he was rushing home to see if it was his friend killed in an avalanche.
Parent has 64 driving convictions and five driving suspensions.
Crown Donna Ballyk said the tragedy of this case and the jail sentence should cause all people to reflect on how they drive.
“Any criminal offence that results in the loss of a life, whether or not it’s a homicide, needs to be investigated to the fullest extent possible, as IHIT has done here,” said IHIT spokesperson Sgt. Jennifer Pound who attended the sentencing and met with the O’Brien family afterwards. “Every conviction contributes to the confidence and public safety of all Canadians who can take comfort in the knowledge that guilty persons will face justice. “