Bell Island drunk driver concedes his ‘horrible mistake’

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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John Dobbin — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A Bell Island man who struck two people with his car while driving drunk has been sentenced to 21 months in jail.

In provincial court in St. John’s this morning, John Dobbin was also banned from driving for five years. He must pay $2,000 for breaching a Highway Traffic violation for driving with no insurance.

Judge Lois Skanes’ decision was a split between what lawyers had suggested. Crown prosecutor Jeff Summers asked the judge to impose a two-year jail term. Defence counsel Tim O’Brien said one year in jail was enough.

Dobbin, 42, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident.

The charges were laid as a result of what happened on Aug. 19 last year.

Dobbin had spent hours drinking at Dick’s Lounge on Bell Island. At around 11 p.m., he got behind the wheel and soon after hit a teenaged girl, who was walking home with a friend.

The girl flew 12 feet in the air and landed in a ditch. She ended up in hospital with nine staples in her head, a broken foot and numerous cuts and bruises.

Shortly afterwards, his vehicle struck another girl who was walking along the road. She ended up with an injured elbow.

Dobbin’s car was later found with signs of the collision at the Bell Island airstrip, where Dobbin’s son, Bradley Dobbin, had reportedly taken it to hide it after the incident.

The younger Dobbin has been charged with mischief by trying to mislead police.

In sentencing John Dobbin, the judge took into consideration that Dobbin had a positive pre-sentence report, which deemed him a low risk to reoffend, and the fact that Dobbin is taking steps to deal with his addiction to alcohol.

However, Skanes noted the seriousness of the offence, pointing out that people were hurt as a result of what he did.

Before sentencing, Dobbin was given an opportunity to speak. He told the court what he did was “a horrible mistake.” He turned to one of the victims, 14-year-old Kerri-Lynn Byrne, and her family and apologized.

“I hope one day the family can forgive me,” Dobbin said.

But that may be easier said than done. After sentencing, Kerri-Lynn told reporters she didn’t think the apology was genuine.

Her mother, Christine, and father, Stephen, said the family has been through a terrible ordeal as a result of what Dobbin did. They hope he gets the help he needs so he won’t do the same to anyone else.

Geographic location: Bell Island

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  • david
    July 04, 2013 - 17:27

    Drunk driving is not a crime in this province...it is just an activity, like smoking or walking or eating. This province needs much, much more vigilant enforcement here to even begin changing the public's attitude about this absolute scourge on society. It is high time we emerge from this savage, Neanderthal, island-cradled existence and begin to move into civilized, responsible citizenship by everyone.

  • Rick
    July 04, 2013 - 13:10

    Finally a sentence that is more than a slap on the wrist