A Portugal Cove man who was speeding down a winding road with his three children in the back and crashed has been given a $1,500 fine and six months’ probation.
Patrick Charles O’Grady was sentenced today in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
The 40-year-old was found guilty of dangerous driving following a trial in December 2011, when he was acquitted of the more serious charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
At the sentencing hearing today, Crown prosecutor Jason House asked for a 30-60 day jail term, with 12- to 18-months’ probation and a two-year driving prohibition.
However, defence lawyer Michelle Elliott didn’t think the offence warranted a prison term. She said a driving prohibition would be determental to her client, who needed his licence to secure employment and support his children.
Justice Wayne Dymond agreed and rendered his decision from the bench immediately after the lawyers’ submission.
Dymond pointed out that this was O’Grady’s first criminal offence for driving and added there have been many worse cases that have come before the court.
“It’s not a capital offence, …” he said.
“This should be a deterrent for you, but not make your life miserable. A heavy fine is appropriate in this case.”
O’Grady was initially accused of driving drunk and causing injuries to his children, who were shaken in the crash.
The judge said it was clear O’Grady was speeding, but said there was insufficient evidence to suggest he was impaired at the time of the crash.
The accident happened at about 2:25 p.m., Aug. 1, 2010.
O’Grady was behind the wheel of his Honda CRV, driving on Portugal Cove Road in Portugal Cove, when he lost control and swerved off the road while making a turn on the winding road, near a softball field.
The car slammed into a pillar on the side of the road and spun back into a residential driveway before coming to a sudden stop.
O’Grady’s nine-year-old daughter, and his two sons, ages 11 and 12, suffered minor injuries in the crash.
O’Grady turned down offers from witnesses to call an ambulance for the children.
He opted to leave the car, while he and his children obtained a ride back to his house, where he said he quickly drank three or four beer.
Police showed up not long after and administered the breathalyzer on O’Grady. He failed it.
However, there was no proof O’Grady was impaired at the time of the crash. O’Grady had told the court he had a few O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer before the incident.
As part of the sentence, O’Grady must also pay a $100 victim surcharge to the court. He has six months to pay it.
“This is a fair way to deal with it,” Dymond said. “You know yourself how close you came to losing your own life.”
As he was leaving the courtroom, O’Grady told reporters, “I just want to try and get myself back on my feet and see my children again.”