‘Where’s the justice?’

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

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on January 14, 2011
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.
Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

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.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com