A Surrey man who struck and killed an 83-year-old grandfather who was waiting at a bus stop three years ago has been found guilty.
Gurjit Dhillon, 28, was facing a charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. (A street racing charge was dropped in late August due to unreliable witness testimony.)
Pritam Benning, 83, was grievously injured in the 2009 rush hour crash at the busy intersection of 128 Street and 72 Avenue. He died five days later without gaining consciousness long enough for family to speak with him.
On Friday in Surrey Provincial Court, Judge James Jardine found that Dhillon’s driving was “obviously dangerous” that day and that he drove with “intentional risk” that caused his car to lose control, spin through the intersection and strike the bench where Benning was waiting.
Jardine said the entire incident, which ended with “horrific consequences,” happened in a matter of seconds. The judge found that Dhillon, driving his brother’s black Corvette, had been following a yellow Corvette at about 6 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2009. The two cars came to a stop at the intersection and when the light turned green, Dhillon accelerated abruptly, attempted to change lanes and hit another car before spinning out of control. His car then mounted the curb and launched toward Benning.
Benning’s son Manjit was relieved at the guilty verdict, but acknowledged nothing will bring his father back.
“My dad is gone, but we wanted consequences in this case.
“My dad was blameless. He was sitting at a bus stop,” he added. “Dhillon was driving in a reckless fashion. If anyone should have passed away, it should have been him.”
Dhillon did not take the stand in his own defence during the trial, and did not comment Friday when he exited court following the verdict.
During the trial, a 911 recording was played where he was heard telling the operator “I hit a person. I need an ambulance quick. Something happened to my car. It just went out of control.”
The defence had argued that the brake system in Dhillon’s car was faulty – a theory Judge Jardine refuted.
“This vehicle went out of control before the brakes were applied,” said Jardine in his ruling.
The maximum sentence for Dhillon’s crime is 14 years, but the range applied is generally much lower.
In August, Dhillon’s wife told CTV news that her husband carried great grief over the crash and has a tattoo on his forearm of Benning’s name.