MADD Canada

MADD Canada

March 30, 2007 12:11 ET

MADD: No Justice Served with Conditional Sentence for Killing

The Canadian Senate needs to pass Bill C-9 to stop conditional sentences and guarantee justice with violent crimes

Attention: News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK--(CCNMatthews - March 30, 2007) - In the wake of the 'totally unacceptable' conditional sentence handed out in a Fredericton courtroom yesterday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada is urging Senators to immediately pass Bill C-9, the legislation that disallows conditional sentences for violent crimes. MADD Canada wants the Canadian Senate to pass Bill C-9 now so that no further families will have to suffer the re-victimization of watching a convicted impaired driving offender, who has killed or inflicted serious injury, walk out of court to a house arrest.

In July 2006, after consuming 24 beers and half a bottle of whiskey, Peter Leon Howe drove while impaired and struck and killed 23-year old Robbie MacRitchie. Yesterday, Provincial Court Judge Graydon Nicholas sentenced Mr. Howe to a conditional sentence of house arrest of two years less a day - to be served at his mother's home. The judge said his review of case law indicates that a conditional sentence of house arrest was appropriate in Howe's case.

"There's no justice served here," says Karen Dunham, MADD Canada National President. "It's totally unacceptable that a person who drinks to excess and chooses to drive and then kills a person is allowed to walk away from his crime. What does this say about the value we place on a human life?"

"Conditional sentences relating to violent crimes are a travesty of justice," and Mrs. Dunham adds, "they're outrageous. A person who has killed or seriously injured must be held accountable for his or her actions and should not be given the opportunity to avoid the jail-time."

She explains, "Jail time is part of our correctional services in Canada and, especially with the worse types of crimes where there has been a death or serious injury, we need to insist on jail to maintain Canadians' sense of safety and of justice."

"MADD Canada believes that the denunciation of a violent criminal act where someone has been killed or seriously injured is serving time in jail."

After the sentencing in Fredericton yesterday, the deceased father Don MacRitchie told media the leniency of house arrest sends the wrong message to everyone else about the seriousness of impaired-driving charges. "Our family's sentenced to life without Robbie. House arrest is not much of a deterrent."

Mother Faye MacRitchie told media that Robbie's friends are angry with the sentence and disappointed in the criminal-justice system.

MADD Canada's National President felt for the MacRitchie family and what they are now going through. "Not enough is said about the value and respect of a human life in today's judicial system. For victims and their families, the use of conditional sentencing for violent crimes is an insulting example of how our system is tilted towards consideration for the convicted."

For more than two years, MADD Canada has been demanding the Federal Parliament eliminate the availability of conditional sentences for those convicted of impaired driving causing death or impaired driving causing bodily harm. Mrs. Dunham hopes their demands will be heard and acted upon. "Our judicial system and politicians have to catch up to the public's sense of justice and what is both fair and effective sentencing. Bill C-9 needs to be passed and we need to put stop to conditional sentences for violent impaired driving crimes."

"If this is the type of justice judges' discretion gives to us, then we need to rebalance the scales of justice with appropriate legislation that provides fair and just sentences for violent crimes," says Mrs. Dunham.

MADD Canada calls on all Canadians who believe this use of conditional sentencing for violent creams is unacceptable to contact their MPs and voice their protest. People can also contact the Senate Committee that now has Bill C-9 and urge it to pass the legislation. People can contact:

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
c/o Committee Clerk Shaila Anwar
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A4
Phone: 613-993-4874
FAX: 613-947-2104
Committee Email Address

/For further information:
Andrew Murie, MADD Canada CEO at 1-800-665-6233, ext. 224/ IN: JUSTICE, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Karen Dunham, Natiional President
    Primary Phone: 506-650-7473