(This column was published in the North Shore News on July 7, 2004)
The tale of two sentencings
By Leo Knight
In September 2002, Richmond RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng lost his life in a horrific crash.
He was in his patrol car entering an intersection with a green light when a souped-up Honda Civic screamed through the red and T-Boned Ng's car.
Yau Chung (Stuart) Chan was believed to be street racing in the moments before the police constable died.
In November 2002, just two months after Ng's death, Lawton Ferreira, 19, was racing his pickup against a car just outside of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar, Calif.
Feili Dolor, 20, wasn't involved in the race.
In fact, he had just left martial arts training and was on his way to celebrate his mother's birthday.
He never made it.
Ferreira's truck slammed into Dolor's car as he pulled onto the same city street as the race was taking place at speeds up to 93 m.p.h.
Dolor never knew what hit him.
When Chan's Honda ripped into Ng's police cruiser, his friend David Guan was right there.
The police say he was driving the car Chan was racing against.
Without an apparent thought for the dying police officer, Guan stopped his car and loaded Chan into it and sped away.
He did not call for help.
Guan was initially charged with criminal negligence causing death and leaving the scene of an accident.
Chan was charged with the same offences.
On June 14, Guan appeared in B.C. Supreme Court and pleaded guilty to helping the alleged hit and run driver flee the scene of the accident.
He was sentenced to three years probation.
And he has to do 240 hours of community service. The judge also said he was not allowed to drive a car for three years.
Last week Chan pleaded guilty to criminal negligence and leaving the scene of an accident. He won't be sentenced until September.
If I were a betting man, which of course I'm not, I'd be placing a small wager on a conditional sentence of two years less a day.
House arrest, if it can be called that.
Ferreira, also appeared in court last week.
He pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of marijuana.
Prosecutors dropped murder charges in the plea arrangement.
Ferreira, who is the son of the founder of the Safe Racing Association, ought to have known better.
He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Not house arrest, prison.
In court, Ferreira apologized to Dolor's family.
In B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, neither Chan nor Guan apologized to Ng's parents, Therese and Chris Ng.
The grieving parents were left to speculate if the guilty pleas were a sign of remorse.
When asked if the pleas were such a sign, Chris Ng said to reporters, "That's our impression at this stage."
The smugness apparent in the Chan and Guan court cases including the way their lawyers did their level best to minimize the actions that snuffed out the life of a member of the RCMP in his prime, ought to make the bile rise in your throat.
Not even a simple "I'm sorry" was forthcoming.
One of the racers has been firmly slapped on the wrist with a probation order.
The other has yet to feel the response from the court, but you can bet the mortgage it won't be anything near as severe as the sentence imposed on Fereirra for exactly the same offence.
And Ferreira at least had the decency to say that he was sorry.
I couldn't help but notice the story in Sunday's North Shore News about a man who attacked another with a bat at Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver.
Lloyd Peter Robinson, 20, was given a total of two years less a day by North Vancouver provincial court Judge Bill Rodgers.
With time served in custody before sentencing deducted from the sentence, it amounts to about another 10 months in jail.
But I nearly choked when I read what the judge had to say during sentencing. Rodgers said, "His (Robinson's) young age, his strong family support and his employment prospects lead me to conclude that the appropriate sentence would be two years less a day minus time served."
The family referred to by the judge includes dad Lloyd George Robinson, a long-time member of the East End chapter of the Hells Angels.
The elder Robinson has had many dealings with police. He was charged with manslaughter in the late '80s in the death of a Georgia Street club owner who had the temerity to ask the gang not to wear their colours in his establishment.
The court was filled with colour-wearing members of the outlaw motorcycle gang. The charges were dropped.
Robinson was also arrested on the Upper Levels highway in 1996. News reports at the time said he was alleged to have some guns and $100,000 cash in his vehicle at the time of the arrest.
Those charges and the extortion charges which initiated the arrest were also dropped.
I'd guess the family support as outlined to the judge may have neglected to include some details of the family tree.