Mother’s death ‘feels like yesterday’

Man pleads guilty, family anguished six months after loved one struck by vehicle

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on April 24, 2014
Lee Doyle (left) and Michelle Doyle sob as they speak to reporters outside provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday following proceedings in the case of William Patrick Conway, who caused the death of their mother,  Veronica Doyle Lewis, last fall.  — Photo by Rosie Mullaley/The Telegram

It was six months ago today that the lifeless body of 57-year-old Veronica Doyle Lewis was found on an Airport Heights street.

“It feels like yesterday,” her daughter Lee Doyle said, sobbing.

Doyle and her sister Michelle Doyle were among the group of about a dozen of Doyle Lewis’s family members who were in provincial court in St. John’s Wednesday to see the man who was responsible for her death.

Her daughters sobbed as  William Patrick Conway was led into the courtroom. The tears continued throughout the proceedings.

“Most times when we came to court, he wasn’t there. It was just by video,” Lee Doyle told reporters outside court.

“It’s so much harder today.”

Conway pleaded guilty to five charges, including four in connection with the incident that killed Doyle Lewis on Oct. 24, 2013 — criminal negligence by operating a vehicle that caused the woman’s death, and three counts of breaching an undertaking, since the court had ordered that he abstain from alcohol, not drive and stay away from Lewis.

“We’re pleased with the guilty pleas,” Doyle said.

“At least now he admits to killing our mother.”

Police said Conway was drunk when he got behind the wheel of his vehicle, hit the woman on Firdale Drive — where it’s believed the two had lived — and took off.

Officers picked Conway up a short time later at the ferry terminal in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

In one of his first court appearances shortly after the incident, Conway had told reporters the woman’s death was an accident and he apologized to her family.

He has been in custody since his arrest.

Conway also pleaded guilty in connection with a separate incident on Feb. 15, 2013, in which he was charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s.

A sentencing hearing for all matters is set for May 21. Crown prosecutor Jeff Summers and defence lawyer Michelle Coady are expected to  have an agreed statement of facts and present their recommendations on sentencing to the judge at that time.

“The sentencing is what we’re concerned about,” Doyle said. “We’re hoping for the maximum sentence …

“I hope the justice system doesn’t fail us. Giving him the maximum incarceration time is not going to bring back our mother, but it will give her some justice, and us, as a family, so we can have some closure.”

When asked how the family is coping, Michelle Doyle said, “It’s been really hard. We’ve been struggling a lot, and as time goes by … it doesn’t get any easier.”