She moved the car only 15 feet, but it was enough to change the life of one man in her path.
Three months after Nicole Renee Young stole a taxi while under the influence of drugs and alcohol and hit two men when she backed it up, she pleaded guilty Friday to several charges.
In a sentencing hearing at provincial court in St. John’s, the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts each of impaired driving causing bodily harm, assaulting a police officer, breaching probation and breaching an undertaking, along with single counts of refusing to provide a breath sample, theft of a vehicle and failing to attend court.
Most of the charges were laid in connection with an incident Sept. 8.
At around 6:30 a.m. that day, Young got into a cab at 23 Barter’s Hill, where it was called to drop off a bottle of rum and bottle of Pepsi.
According to the facts of the case, Young crawled over the driver to sit in the passenger seat.
When the driver went to retrieve the package from the trunk, Young moved into the driver’s seat and put the vehicle in reverse.
She struck the taxi driver and another man on the scene.
Young jumped out and starting screaming at the cab driver, blaming it on him.
When police arrived, both men were bleeding. The taxi driver was alert, but the other man was lying on the ground. Both men were taken to hospital.
Police found Young a short distance away, on Livingstone Street. She tried to tell officers she was someone else, but when police asked her to come with them, she became combative — screaming and cursing.
Officers took her to hospital because she claimed to be having a seizure.
After she was examined and cleared to go, she again became aggressive. She kicked the police car, swore at officers and twice tried to spit on them.
She refused the officers’ request for her to take the breathalyzer and even refused to get out of the police car. When officers told her it may result in her being charged, she replied, “Go (expletive) yourself. I don’t care.”
Young has been in custody ever since, having been denied bail a week after her arrest.
While the taxi driver suffered minor injuries from being hit with the car, the other man’s injuries were more serious.
He was admitted to intensive care with severe head trauma. He suffered a fractured skull, was in a coma for almost a month and a half, and had brain injuries. As a result, he could not recognize his own son, had a change in personality, and had speech and comprehension problems. He also had to get a pacemaker.
“The consequences were serious,” Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves said in recommending a total of two years in jail, including straight-time credit for the three months she’s spent in custody.
Steeves said not only did Young drive recklessly while impaired, her behaviour after the event showed she had a casual attitude towards the incident.
“She was fairly indifferent to the harm she caused these two individuals,” said Steeves, who noted Young was also supposed to be adhering to court orders to be of good behaviour.
Steeves said Young should also be banned from driving, since she had no licence at the time of the incident and has several Highway Traffic Act violations.
She also has a criminal record that includes offences such as assaults and court breaches.
Young’s lawyer, Brian Wentzell, agreed Young should get a two-year jail term, but said three months in custody should be subtracted from that time.
He said Young — the mother of two young children — had a serious drug and alcohol addiction at the time and wants to get help while serving time in a federal institution, where there is better programming available than in this province.
“Rehabilitation is a significant factor,” Wentzell said.
“Treatment rather than punishment is the best thing for her.
“Protection of the public is better served not by locking her up (for a lengthy period), but by allowing her to avail of services.”
Wentzell said while in custody at the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville, she has been receiving counselling and has been an active member in various group programs, such as stress and anger management and addictions services.
“So there’s not a need to keep her in those extra three months,” he said.
Judge Mike Madden will render his decision Dec. 21.