Crown asks for jail time for drunk driver who hurt family in car crash

Rosie Mullaley
Published on January 28, 2012
Veronica LeGrow sits in provincial court in St. John's Friday. - Photo by Rosie Gillingham/ The Telegram

Her sentencing hearing had just ended at provincial court Friday and Veronica LeGrow was still wiping tears from her eyes.

She then turned to a man and two women in the back of the courtroom.

"I'm so, so sorry," she said to them before breaking down again.

Randy Lynch, his wife Brenda Lynch and their daughter Shelly Lynch said nothing, opened the door and left.

The Lynches were victims of a car crash on Dec. 26, 2010 on Seal Cove Road in Seal Cove, where LeGrow smashed into their car.

LeGrow was drunk - with a blood alcohol level of almost three times the legal limit - that night when she was driving her stepfather's pickup.

She had been drinking beer and champagne with family members, who had hidden her car keys for fear she would drive and blocked in her car with her stepfather's pickup. But when no one was looking, LeGrow stole the keys to the truck and took off.

The Lynches had been returning home from a friend's house just before midnight when they spotted a pickup heading towards them. LeGrow swerved off the road, hit a retaining wall, bounced back onto the road and crashed head-on into the Lynches' car.

There were two other people in the Lynches' car - Shelly's nine-year-old son, Tyler, and her boyfriend, Stephen.

All five suffered injuries, but Tyler's injuries - which included a small cut on the chin - were said to be not serious.

Testified about injuries

Randy, Brenda and Shelly all took the stand during the hearing to tell the court how they were injured.

Randy's foot was broken in three places and he hurt his shoulder. Brenda had fractured ribs and also hurt her shoulder. She's still on pain medication and hasn't been able to return to work.

Shelly suffered a serious laceration over her eye, which required stitches. Her back, shoulder and legs were also injured and she's on ease-back at work.

Shelly testified that Stephen, who wasn't in court, is having pain in his shoulder and side.

There was an open vodka bottle found in the seat next to LeGrow in the pickup.

LeGrow - who turns 40 today - has pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Four counts of failing the breathalyzer were withdrawn by the Crown in exchange for the guilty pleas.

LeGrow also apologized to the Lynch family during the sentencing hearing.

She said she hasn't had a drink since the incident.

"I don't know if I'd be so kind as they are," LeGrow said with a quiver in her voice.

"It must be very stressful for them being on the road now, worrying about people like me. But I know they don't have to worry about me.

"I've hurt a lot of people," she said. "I don't know how to make it up to them. I don't know what to do.

"I'm just very, very sorry."

Expressed remorse

Crown prosecutor Shawn Patten acknowledged that LeGrow has expressed remorse and that she is an educated woman who has no prior criminal record.

However, he said the court should not ignore the dangers of drunk driving.

"This is a serious offence," said Patten, who noted LeGrow's pre-sentence report indicated she was a medium risk to reoffend.

"People could've been killed."

Patten recommended LeGrow be sentenced to nine months in jail, with two years' probation. He also suggested she be banned from driving for three years.

"(People) need to know there are serious repercussions to driving drunk and that is you're going to jail," Patten said.

But defence lawyer Ken Hollett said LeGrow has been getting treatment for her alcohol addiction.

He said a conditional sentence would be more appropriate.

"This is a case in which Ms. LeGrow has gotten the message," Hollett said.

"We have to be careful in sentencing first offenders who are trying to rehabilitate themselves. The sentence shouldn't be unduly harsh as to damage their prospects (of rehabilitation)."

If a conditional sentence is not available, Hollett said, he asked the judge to consider having LeGrow - who was released shortly after her arrest - serve an intermittent three-to-four-month jail term (on weekends) so it won't interrupt her job, her family life and her treatment.

Chief Judge Mark Pike will bring down his sentence Jan. 31. Twitter: @TelyCourt