‘Where’s the justice?’

Rosie Mullaley
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Mother of crash victim upset after mechanic who OK'd safety of car given 11-month jail term

Wayne Joseph Johnson was sentenced in provincial court in St. John's Thursday to 11 months in jail. The 51-year-old had pleaded guilty to five charges, including making a false motor vehicle safety inspection certificate for a car that crashed in October 2009, killing Kayla Reid.

The quiet of a St. John’s courtroom was suddenly shattered by the sobs and screams of an anguished mother Thursday afternoon.

After Wayne Johnson was led out of provincial court in handcuffs — having been given an

11-month jail term — Kimberley Clowe began loudly denouncing his sentence.

“This is a farce! A farce!” shouted Clowe, whose daughter Kayla Reid was killed Oct. 3, 2009, when she was thrown from a car that veered off the pavement and crashed on Blackhead Road.

“Where’s the justice? There’s no justice for me. There’s no justice for my daughter.”

Johnson was arrested and charg­ed after the accident, when police discovered he had issued a false safety inspection certificate for the 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, which was found to have had several mechanical defects.

Last month, Johnson pleaded guilty to issuing the false inspection certificate, along with breach of trust and making a false document.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of driving while prohibited, stemming from separate incidents.

Both Crown prosecutor Jennifer Colford and defence lawyer Bob Simmonds agreed that Johnson was not responsible for Kayla Reid’s death.

“To see the (news)paper and read that (his lawyer said) he was ‘not responsible’ …!” Clowe shouted. “What a farce!”

She directed her anger at both the lawyers, who did not respond.

After voicing her displeasure with the entire court process, she and her husband stormed out of the courtroom.

It’s the second court case Clowe has attended related to the accident.

In November, she burst into tears and ran out of the courtroom when Natasha Stapleton — who had been driving at one point at 127 km/h and lost control of the car — was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

In that trial, it was revealed that one of the car’s major defects was a broken left front sway bar link, which can affect steering.

During the investigation, police discovered Johnson had forged the safety inspection certificate for the car by putting the names of his business associate and his son on the document.

“Certificates of inspection are part of the administrative process imposed by the province …,” Judge Colin Flynn said in handing down his decision Thursday.

“Mr. Johnson was given the authority to conduct these inspections. … The government and the community relies on these people and trusts that they will exercise it appropriately. If not, it puts people’s safety in peril. …

“This was a serious breach of trust.”

Johnson’s sentence includes four months for the forgery charges and seven months for driving while prohibited. The judge also handed down a three-year driving ban, which will run consecutively to his existing driving prohibition, which means he won’t be allowed to get behind the wheel again until 2015.

Johnson was given a five-year driving ban in 2007, when he was convicted of impaired driving charges.

He was charged again when police caught him driving in September 2009 and again in February 2010.

“Driving prohibitions are another form of punishment and a form of public protection,” the judge said.

“The most important is the protection of the public. We all know the problems caused by drunk driving and the consequences.”

Johnson — who had been out on bail since his arrest — was also ordered to pay $400 in victim surcharges.

At his sentencing hearing last month, Simmonds had suggested nine months in prison, while Colford wanted double that time, along with a lengthier driving ban.


Geographic location: Blackhead Road

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Recent comments

  • link
    January 17, 2011 - 00:27

    Maybe if Ms. Reid had been wearing her seatbelt there would have been a different outcome of all of this. The other two girls who were passengers in the car were discredited in court saying that they were under the influence of drugs. As well stated that the driver Natasha was a good driver in court. The police were only guessing at the speed the car was traveling judging by the slide pattern on the road . This is in no way an acurate way to judge speed and is a guess! Especially considering the fact the state the vehicle was in underinflated tires, a broken spring (affecting traction), ABS was disabled not to mention different types of tires on the vehicle. Calculations for determining speed depend on braking efficency, tire hardness aswell if all the tires are on the road. I have a car that is 2 years newer, with good tires and good brakes and more horse power. After the accident I attempted to get my car to the stated speed in the same area under great conditions this summer, I was only able to reach 100km/h.

  • a just kind
    January 14, 2011 - 19:30

    If no one was killed and it were a bogus inspection, what would the penalty be?

  • rosa
    January 14, 2011 - 14:41

    I agree that this man did wrong, and deserves to pay for his crimes, but, it boggles my mind that the driver was found not criminally responsible. I agree with the comments that the courts place more emphasis on punishing people for a bit of moose, or for weed plants. My hearts go out to the parents, family and friends of the victim. You , or she, did not get the justice deserved. !27 km an hour in a brand new vehicle could have had the same results. The driver, if she has any conscience, will have to live with this forever. Who knows maybe the last words Kayla Reid said haunt her.

  • Mr.Mom
    January 14, 2011 - 11:35

    Sure he was wrong in issuing a false inspection but as some of you say, wasn't Natasha Stapleton the main cause of death, driving at such a high rate of speed. Who's to say that if the car had been driven at a normal rate, that the part would have weekened and as you see sometimes on the side of the road, the car with the wheel let go and the car waiting for a toe truck . So as I said, he is quilty as charged but why wasn't Natasha Stapleton charged as well....she was a main contributer in the death.

  • Heidi Power
    January 14, 2011 - 11:29

    I do not think this man is entirely responsible for the death of the young girl as he was not the one speeding at 127km/hr. not being a mechanic I do not know if the problems with the car caused the speeding...but what he did was definately wrong...I am making an assumption that he will no longer be able to do safety inspections..I am thinking that this license should be removed for good! I have seen vehicles on the road that I wonder about sometimes..maybe this will wake up some of those people doing false safety inspections...

  • Gerri
    January 14, 2011 - 11:27

    I agree with all the comments made here. This certainly has been a travesty of justice. How the courts could hold no one responsible for the loss of this young girls life is beyond me. It's quite obvious, to anyone of any intelligence, that 127 km/hr equates to dangerous driving. Isn't that why we have speed limits in the first place, so that drivers will drive the recommended 'safe' speed for the particular area where it's posted?? I don't know the speed limit in that area but I'm willing to bet it's no where near 127 km/hr. The Trans Canada Highway has a limit lower than that!! I agree with the person who wrote about the weed....also, kill a moose or catch a few salmon, without a license and the penalties are very harsh. It seems this young woman's life is worth less than than a moose or a salmon, to our justice decision makers. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I hope you will find some avenue to eventually provide you with a little peace. God be with you.

  • Kent
    January 14, 2011 - 11:04

    I agree with Nasty-Nate and Santo's comments.. It was the driver who is really to blame and she walks away. Having said that, the mechanic does deserve some prison time as well but I don't agree that his negligence led to or contributed this accident... It was 100% driver caused.

  • Bibbie from NL.
    January 14, 2011 - 11:00

    A man on the Southern Shore lost his business, his car and alot more for having poached meat in his freezer andt this man gets a 11 months. Oh yes, but don't forget this man was abused at Mt. Cashel

  • maddy
    January 14, 2011 - 10:49

    I feel sorry for the Clowe family, justice was not served in this case.

  • Scott Free
    January 14, 2011 - 10:40

    Santo, you are right on the mark on this one. And, I like many others, were also baffled at the legal decision on the Harshbarger incident; how Mary Beth wasn't even found to be negligent, intentional or otherwise! I think our judicial system is in dire need of a total revamp, much like the reigning political regime; this province needs a complete flushout.

    • Go Away Already
      January 14, 2011 - 14:22

      Let's start the flushout with you Scott

  • Santo
    January 14, 2011 - 09:42

    It is so hard to believe that the young woman driving that car walked away scott free. It's mind boggling. This man, isnt' guilt free, but HE did not drive the car at 127 Km , a new car in perfect order would be difficult to control to an inexperienced dirver. How the judge found her not guilty of any wrong doing is beyond me. One can only hope that she is living with extrem guilt. But I doubt it. She walked away with the judge pretty much saying....it's ok, it's not your fault. So why would she feel any guilt. Our justice system sucks. No wonder there are so many crimes being committed. it's simple -- Want, take, have.....no repercussions....

  • Johnboy
    January 14, 2011 - 08:54

    It certainly appears that justice in NL is for the guilty parties. The young girl that was driving this car was totally at fault yet she walks. Johnson does get jail time but as a loser does this help the parents of the dead girl. Even though his license is suspended he will still be driving and likely drinking when he gets out.

  • Carol Ann Rogers
    January 14, 2011 - 08:46

    I don't really understand this, the driver didn't even get a speeding ticket for driving over the speed limit. There were witness in the car stating the excessive speed. She had to know her friends in the car did not want her to drive that fast they protested before the accident. Maybe her car was not in great mechnical order but pushing that gas pedal to the floor would have contributed to the accident. I think both parties in the case have contributed to the death of a person and life long injury to the sight of another. There is no balance of justice in this matter.

  • Jim
    January 14, 2011 - 08:28

    He should be in jail for the length of time he is prohibited from driving - obviously the only way to keep him from doing it. I agree - this is a farce.

  • james
    January 14, 2011 - 08:05

    safety inspections are a joke flash enought cash and your car is certified fit

  • darls
    January 14, 2011 - 07:51

    As a mother my heart goes out to you....as for your justice ...that walked out the door when the young girl who was driving was found not guilty.....if anyone is guilty of this it was her....and the smirk on her fave when she walked out the door...if it was me i would have went over and wiped that smirk right off her face...mam...i really hope one day you find peace....just remember there are alot of us mothers that are sheding alot of tears over this...

  • nasty nate
    January 14, 2011 - 07:35

    Should be going after the driver. Due care and attention caused this, but I guess it is better to blame everyone. Maybe the first responders are next in line for not doing more sooner. This is your guilty party - Natasha Stapleton — who had been driving at one point at 127 km/h and lost control of the car — was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

  • Anon
    January 14, 2011 - 07:35

    You'd get more time in prison for growing some weed plants. And that can't even kill anyone.