Friday, January 28, 2022

An Edmonton driver who crashed into a Starbucks that killed three passengers has been jailed for nine years CBC News

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A 27-year-old Edmonton man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for entering a Starbucks restaurant on Friday and killing three people in his car.

Oscar Benjumea has pleaded guilty to three counts of fatal driving and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

The crown recommended a 13-year prison sentence, while Benjumea’s lawyers asked for a sentence of 5 to 7 years.

In July 2020, Benjumea spent an evening with his friend Faisal Yusuf at the Whyte Avenue bar. The men sat at a table with Georgia Donovan and Emma McArthur.

At the end, four of them got into Benjumea’s 2018 Audi RS5. Less than 10 minutes later, three passengers were dead or missing.

Benjumea lost control while driving at a speed of 184 km / h in the 60 km / h zone and crashed into a Starbucks.

In an Edmonton court hearing on Friday morning, Judge Peter Mikhalishin called Benjumea’s driving “extremely dangerous” and said he was banned from driving for a year by the court at the time of the crash.

The judge rejected Benjumea’s claim that he could not remember anything after getting into the passenger car.

“Before the collision, whether he remembers it or not, whether he remembers it or not, Mr. Benjumea said that his driving and his extreme danger and the danger to himself, his passengers and other members of the community were at stake. He was aware of his condition, ”said Mikhalishin.

Mikhalishyn called the departure from the scene a “moral condemnation” and added that the crown “speaks his guilty opinion.”

“It showed negligence towards its passengers,” he said, noting that Benjumea managed to escape from police at the scene.

Benjumea admitted that he had consumed four bullets and two ounces of drink before getting behind the wheel that evening, and the judge found that there was no evidence that he should have drunk more than that.

“It may have prevented him or contributed to a dangerous drive, but there is no direct evidence of that,” the judge said.

“No one likes to go to jail”

Benjumea has been in custody since the day of the crash. He receives a 2.6-year loan for the time he has already served.

Outside the court, defense attorney Dino Bottos said the client would not appeal the verdict.

“No one likes to go to jail,” Bottos said. “Mr. Benjumea understood the judge’s decision. He accepts what the judge said about the conduct.”

During the sentencing, Michalishin noted Benjumea’s youth and rehabilitation prospects.

“He was a good candidate during his imprisonment and I expect him to remain a worthy candidate for rehabilitation as he continues to serve his sentence,” the judge said.

Mikhalishyn also saw Benjumea’s “genuine remorse” and his confession as a mitigating factor in the sentence.

Bottos praised the judge for balancing denunciation and restraint with rehabilitation prospects.

“We understand that there was a lot of pressure on him, that he was very angry with Mr. Benjumea,” Bottos said.

“But the justice I suggested was that he did his best to withstand this pressure and anger and tried to apply the judgment he deemed appropriate and right.”

When Benjumea is released, he will face a 10-year driving ban, which Mikhalishyn said was necessary to protect the interests of justice and the public.

Michalyshyn spoke directly to Benjumea before leaving the courtroom.

“Mr. Benjumea, you have a long way to go,” he said. “I wish you all the best. I hope you find your way forward.”

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