Update: Court hears from victim’s mom in Tobin case

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Jack Tobin (left) arrives at an Ottawa court with his mother, Jodean, and father, former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin, in Ottawa this morning. ‹ Photo by Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

Susan Morgan has been “living every parent’s nightmare” since her only boy was accidentally run over and killed by his good friend — the son of former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin.

“Our sorrow at his loss is endless,” Morgan said in a victim impact statement today as Jack Tobin sat stone faced awaiting his fate at the hands of a provincial court judge.

“It was such a violent and unexpected death.”

Tobin pleaded guilty in May to impaired driving causing death after Alex Zolpis was pinned beneath a pickup truck during parking-lot shenanigans on Christmas Eve.

Brian Tobin sat at his son’s side as the defence lawyer told a sentencing hearing about the qualities of the young Tobin’s character and his “privileged” family upbringing.

Norman Boxall described the 24-year-old Tobin as a “courageous, kind and generous person.”

Outside of the incident that killed his friend, Boxall said Tobin is considered by those who know him as a “responsible person.”

Boxall asked for a sentence of between 18 and 30 months, along with a five-year driving ban. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison sentence and 10-year driving ban.

Morgan said she is a pediatrician who sees children daily as part of her job. Their youthful faces make “every day at work ... a struggle in grief,” she said.

She condemned drinking and driving, adding “we will never be the same.”

Her daughter and her son’s former girlfriend both sobbed while the statements were read, and each had difficulty keeping their composure as they gave their own.

Sister Meaghan Zolpis said she had to feed her grief-stricken parents as they sat in stunned silence on Christmas Day. She said she is filled with guilt and regret.

“Young people don’t take drinking and driving seriously, and this must stop,” Zolpis said. “Nobody else should lose their Alex.”

Emma Roberts said she and Alex Zolpis had discussed marriage and children.

“Every day I am hit by a wave of loneliness, despair and sadness,” Roberts said. “I no longer feel joy or happiness ... This was all preventable. I think of how all of this could have been prevented.”

It’s not immediately clear when Tobin will be sentenced. He has been free on bail since Christmas Day and living with his parents in Ottawa.

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Ottawa

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  • Jean
    August 04, 2011 - 14:57

    Tears stream down my face as I read this article, not just for the young life that was needlessly taken that day and his grief- stricken family but for all the lives that will never be the same after that day. Alcohol is so cruel. Why aren't we getting the message, it's out there...... what else is it going to take, what else needs to be done?? It's taking lives,.. I ask, isn't that message loud enough ??!!!

  • speedy
    August 04, 2011 - 13:42

    It is so sad that drinking and driving is still taking lives and ending the dreams of families. Here a life is lost and two families plus have their lives changed forever, my heart cries for all those who are hurting, may God help them.