Impaired driver gets 2 1/2-year jail term

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Rosie Gillingham
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Victim happy with judge’s decision

Lucas O’Keefe in provincial court in St. John’s Monday. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

The judge believed Lucas O’Keefe was sincere when he said he was sorry for driving drunk, smashing into a car and injuring two people.

But it wasn’t enough to prevent Judge David Orr from imposing jail time.

O’Keefe was sentenced to a 30-month prison term Monday at provincial court in St. John’s.

Orr gave the Mount Pearl man straight-time credit for the 146 days he’s already served in custody, leaving 25 1/2 months left on his term.

Once O’Keefe is released from prison, he’s prohibited from driving for three years.

O’Keefe, who was tearful during his sentencing hearing Nov. 16, show­ed no emotion when the sentence was handed down and said nothing as he was led out of court in handcuffs.

The 30-year-old caused quite an uproar eight months ago when he rammed his pickup truck into a car in front of the Village Shopping Centre.

The crash happened around

9:50 p.m. March 13.

O’Keefe was speeding east-bound on Topsail Road, near the Village Shopping Centre, when he rammed his Dodge Dakota into the back of a Chrysler Sebring, sending it in a tailspin over a sidewalk, through a chainlink fence and back onto the road.

Police estimate O’Keefe — who had his licence suspended at the time — was driving at a speed of at least 120 km/h.

All three passengers in the Sebring — the driver, Joe Taylor; the front-seat passenger, Christine Coady; and the back-seat passenger, Greg Coady — were injured in the crash.

While Taylor was sore and bruised, his injuries were not considered serious.

Christine Coady suffered painful soft-tissue damage to her shoulder, arm and face.

Greg Coady’s injuries were more serious.

He was unconscious and unresponsive when paramedics arrived at the scene of the accident.

He was hospitalized for a week with head injuries that required 15 stitches.

O’Keefe’s truck ended up on the other side of the road at the top of a steep embankment, lodged on a guardrail.

After the accident, he got out of the pickup and ran towards Columbus Drive, but came back when witnesses yelled at him.

Several people there heard him say, “I f---ed up so bad this time … I'm going to jail.”

O’Keefe then got back in his truck and tried to put it in reverse, but was unable to move it.

When firefighters arrived minutes later, O’Keefe was sitting on the guardrail having a cigarette.

He tried to run away again, but was chased by a firefighter. He made it past the Tip Top store, by the front door of the Village Mall and the bus stop, where the firefighter jumped him.

O’Keefe threatened to kill him and his family if he didn’t let him go.

When O'Keefe was put into the police car, he became enraged and tried to kick the partition inside.

He was brought to RNC headquarters and refused to give a breath sample.

He’s been in custody ever since.

He pleaded guilty to five charges — two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, refusing the breathalyzer, destroying RNC property (a police car) and failing to stop at the scene of an accident and offer assistance.

During the sentencing hearing the court heard O’Keefe has struggled with alcohol addiction for years, but has been getting help while behind bars.

His lawyer, Averill Baker, asked the judge to consider a sentence of time served.

However, Crown prosecutor Nick Westera said a three-year term would be more appropriate, given the seriousness of the crime and the impact on the victims.

The judge agreed jail time was warranted, pointing to the dangers of drinking and driving.

Christine Coady told reporters that her brother, Greg, has not been the same since the crash. She said he has memory loss and has frequent mood swings.

Coady was back in court again Monday. While she chose not to be interviewed this time, she did express relief at the sentence.

“Let me just say that I’m happy with the judge’s decision,” she said, “and I hope Lucas gets the help he needs.”

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Topsail Road

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  • Political watcher
    November 29, 2011 - 10:55

    This is not the first time this man has seen the other side of the law. He is a menace to society and should have received a much longer sentence