Road-rage killer has 64 violations
Prosecution calls for eight-year jail term for death of 21-year-old
BY CASSIDY OLIVIER, THE PROVINCE APRIL 29, 2012
As Silas O'Brien's family mourned the second anniversary of his passing, the man responsible for the 21-year-old's death sat parked at the side of a road in Langley with a police cruiser behind him.
It was about 7 p.m. on March 13, 2010, and Brent Parent had just been pulled over for speeding in the 23900-block 16th Avenue, not far from where he had struck and killed O'Brien on the exact same day two years earlier.
The ticket would be Parent's 64th traffic violation in a driving history spanning 25 years. Previous violations included 27 for speeding, seven for not obeying stop signs and/or running red lights, five suspensions and five 24-hour prohibitions.
The relevance of the 43-year-old's record was a central theme Friday at his emotional sentencing hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Last January, Parent was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving and failing to remain at the scene of the March 13, 2008, hit-and-run death of O'Brien.
During the trial, court heard how O'Brien and friends Luke Stephen and Sam Dooley were on their way to the airport that morning for a trip to Hawaii.
On the way, they tried to pass Parent's truck, but he sped up and prevented them from passing. Dooley's truck ended up in the ditch on 16th Avenue in Langley.
Parent then turned around and drove back, swerved at the trio and struck O'Brien, who died at the scene.
Parent drove off, later testifying that he didn't know he had hit anyone.
On Friday, prosecutor Donna Ballyk described Parent's driving record as "egregious" and called on Justice Terence Schultes to impose an eight-year jail sentence, to be followed by a 15-year driving ban.
Parent's driving history suggested a "long pattern of poor decision making" and the 2010 speeding ticket represented a continuation of that pattern, Ballyk said.
"One would expect him to drive properly after such an event," she said, adding later that "Mr. Parent has been reminded 64 times in 25 years" of his driving conduct.
But defence lawyer Vince Michaels argued that Parent's driving record, while relevant, was mostly made up of violations committed when Parent was in his 20s and 30s.
As for the 2010 incident, Michaels said Parent had been rushing home to find out more information about a friend who had been involved in an avalanche while snowmobiling.
Parent later learned that his friend had not been hurt, court heard.
"The tragic irony of that date is not lost on me," Michaels said. "I'm not saying it [his driving history] is not relevant, but in my submission, is not highly relevant or highly aggravating."
Citing Parent's remorse and noting his client only intended to scare, not strike the men, Michaels asked the court for a three-to-four-year sentence to be followed by three-year driving prohibition, which would restrict his driving to employment purposes only.
"Mr. Parent is remorseful and deeply ashamed," said Michaels, noting his client wishes he had let the men pass by him that morning.
"His failure to do so has haunted him and tormented him and will continue to do so for many years."
Earlier, tears flowed as victimimpact statements were read in court by O'Brien's friends and family, who remember him as a handsome, confident, hard-working and optimistic man who brought out the best in those around him.
"The impact of losing my son Silas is indescribable," read Rodger Silas. "To say it gets easier with time is spoken by a heart that has not suffered this loss.
"Do I seek revenge? No, but I seek justice." Friends spoke of trauma of that night and of missed adventures. His girlfriend spoke of the children they would never be able to have.
Parent became tearful when reference letters in his support were read to the court.
"I am very sorry for what happened," Parent wept in final statements. "I wished this never happened and it was me instead of him."
During the trial, the judge found that, as Dooley tried to pass Parent, Parent deliberately sped up and used his truck to push Dooley's vehicle to the side as he tried to stay ahead of the younger man.
Parent's explanation for how Dooley ended up in the ditch was a "clumsy effort" to distance himself from the evidence, Schultes said at trial. And Parent intended the movement of his truck toward the men to be an aggressive one, the judge said.
Schultes will deliver his sentence May 10.
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