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Surrey man gets 6 months house arrest for leaving fatal traffic crash

Court heard Roger Gerald Joseph Dionne, 66, went to Tim Hortons and then home after the crash
Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

A Surrey man has been sentenced to six months of house arrest for leaving the scene of a fatal traffic crash on King George Boulevard in Newton on May 10, 2019.

Roger Gerald Joseph Dionne, 66, was making a left turn into a shopping plaza in the 7300-block of King George when his truck crossed paths with a motorcycle driven by Perbinderjit Rana. Rana braked, his motorcycle fell and his head hit the right rear tire of Dionne’s truck. Despite wearing a helmet Rana died shortly after the crash.

Dionne parked his truck, got out of it, and helped stand Rana’s bike upright. It was lying “some distance away” from Rana, Justice Palbinder Kaur Shergill noted in her reasons for sentencing, in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. Passers-by stopped to help Rana.

The court heard Dionne started feeling chest pain and had trouble breathing. “He went to his truck, administered an inhaler, stepped out of the truck for a second time, and after surveying the scene, he got back in and drove off in the opposite direction of his house,” the judge noted. “Mr. Dionne attended a Tim Hortons, before turning around and going home. The day following the accident, Mr. Dionne turned himself into the Surrey RCMP after hearing on the radio that the police were looking for a vehicle matching the description of his truck.”

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Dionne was convicted of failing to remain at the scene of a fatal collision. Section 320.16 (1) of the Criminal Code obliges drivers who are involved in a crash to stop, give their name and address and offer help to anyone injured. “While Mr. Dionne initially stopped at the scene of the accident, he failed to provide his name and address,” Shergill noted. The minimum sentence is a $1,000 fine and the maximum is life imprisonment.

The Crown argued for a $1,000 fine, between three and six months in jail, a two-year driving prohibition after Dionne got out and a $300 victim fine surcharge. The defence argued for six to 12 months of house arrest, probation, a curfew, that Dionne maintain employment and have no contact with Rana’s family.

Shergill sentenced him to six months of house arrest, an 18-month driving prohibition and a $200 victim fine surcharge.

“I consider this sentence proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender,” she declared.

The judge noted Dionne suffers from chronic health conditions and in 2021 was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had no prior criminal record

“I agree with the Crown that the fact that Mr. Dionne did not make any inquiries about Mr. Rana’s well-being while at the accident scene, is an aggravating factor,” Shergill said. “I note however, that there is no evidence that Mr. Dionne’s failure to inquire into Mr. Rana’s well-being actually put Mr. Rana’s life at risk. This does not mean that this Court condones Mr. Dionne’s conduct. Rather, it is important to contextualize it when considering the consequential harm that flowed from Mr. Dionne’s actions.”

As for mitigating factors, the judge found Dionne expressed remorse and his statement to the victim’s family and the court was “heartfelt and genuine.

“Though the Crown urges me to discount the veracity of the words uttered by Mr. Dionne at his sentencing hearing, on account of the fact that I disbelieved his trial testimony, I note that Mr. Dionne expressed remorse well before he came to court. This is evidenced by his statement to the police which was given when he turned himself in.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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