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Vehicular Homicide Caused by Driver With Previous Record

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The 25-year-old driver charged in connection with a fatal crash in Surrey, B.C. over the weekend has nine previous driving infractions on his record.

Nicolas Karvouniaris, 26, was speeding, he pleaded guilty, and struck a deal that had the Crown asking for a maximum two years in prison.

Karvouniaris is charged with dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in Sunday’s crash, which also injured two other people from Dhillon’s car.

His previous record contains five infractions for speeding, two for driving contrary to restrictions, and one for running a red light – potentially enough to have resulted in a driving prohibition, according to lawyer Paul Doroshenko.

The father of a woman killed in a car crash after being hit head-on by a man going 167 km/h in a 50-km/h zone on a rainy night in Surrey almost a year ago said the speeder’s 20-month sentence is “ridiculous.”

In front of a Surrey courtroom packed mostly with family and friends of Sarah Dhillon, 50, and Paige Nagata, 19, who were both killed in the crash, and of Olivia Kalian, 21, who suffered severe, life-changing injuries,

Nicolas Karvouniaris was sentenced to 20 months on each of the three counts of dangerous driving causing death or bodily harm.

The 26-year-old former drywaller, wearing a black, long-sleeved shirt and grey pants, with his hair and beard cut short, stood as required to hear the sentence while a number of people in the gallery daubed their tears with tissues.

The sentences are to be served concurrently, and he would be eligible for parole before serving two-thirds of the sentence or about in a year-and-a-half.

Nicolas Karvouniaris at the Surrey Court House

“Three people killed or injured by excessive speed and he gets 20 months?” said Troy Demmitt, Dhillon’s dad, outside court. “What kind of deterrence is 20 months? And he’s not going to serve 20 months. Five months per death or per injury is a ridiculous sentence.
“I’m not looking for revenge. Nothing will bring my daughter back. We can’t even put into words how lost we feel.”

And he said: “I’m not saying the driver is a bad person or a bad man,” but “there was a conscious decision to do something that was going to create havoc and (it) basically (was) murder.”
He said he would have liked to see Karvouniaris jailed for 10 years, and he questioned why someone with seven previous speeding tickets, and tickets for driving without a licence and texting while driving, hadn’t lost his licence for good before the crash.

Friends and family of two women killed by driver Nicolas Karvouniaris gather outside Surrey Provincial Court Thursday, September 25, 2019 after his sentencing for their deaths. Pictured is Julie Demmitt (centre), mother of victim Sarah Dhillon.
“I don’t want this guy to spend the rest of his life in jail,” he said. “But we want to feel there is accountability for actions.”

Just after midnight on Nov. 4, 2018, Karvouniaris lost control of his speeding Jeep, hydroplaned on the wet road and jumped the median, hitting Dhillon’s Ford Escape almost head-on.

Sarah Dhillion

Dhillon, an Abbotsford maternity-ward nurse, was killed on impact. Nagata died from her injuries 15 days after the crash. Kalian had a traumatic brain injury, lacerated liver, shattered spleen and multiple rib fractures. Dhillon’s 17-year-old son suffered a head injury. The four had just left an engagement party.

Paige Nagata

Paul Dhillon, Sarah’s husband and an Abbotsford police officer, said he understands the justice system and “they were going to do what they’re going to do. I told my kids, ‘Nothing (no sentence) is going to equal our loss of that day.’ ”
Nagata was the girlfriend of one of his and Sarah’s sons, Kalian is the girlfriend of another. And their third son, who was in the front seat next to his mother, was hurt in the crash.

Paul Dhillon wouldn’t comment directly on the sentence, but said, “If the tables were turned and it was you, what would you think?”
The judge had discussed a number of similar cases to arrive at the sentence, which was less than the 22-24 months the Crown had sought and more than the 12-15 months the defence thought was a fair punishment. The judge said the main sentencing principles for dangerous-driving convictions are general deterrence and denunciation. She also said there were “significant aggravating” factors, including his “high degree of moral culpability” of the excessive speeding and his past speeding tickets.

But the mitigating factors were Karvouniaris’s early guilty plea, which spared witnesses the need to testify and the public the expense of a trial, his “clear expression of remorse,” his regular counselling to address his anger and that’s he’s employed. He also had 16 reference letters. The court heard that Karvouniaris, who grew up in a troubled home, would speed when he was angry because he didn’t know how to express his emotions and was distressed over family health matters the night of the crash.

The judge also sentenced him to three years’ probation instead of the two years sought by the Crown, and to 240 hours of community service, the maximum amount allowed, and a five-year driving ban, instead of the four years sought by the Crown.
The judge in sentencing also left open the possibility of Karvouniaris and the victims’ families engaging in restorative justice, which Sarah’s dad said he was in favour of, but her husband said he wasn’t.

“I feel for this young man’s family,” said Demmitt. “He is going to have to live with this also for the rest of his life.”
He said he would like Karvouniaris to talk to him.
“Life is tough enough as it is without carrying a weight,” said Demmitt. “I don’t hate him. Hate is a terrible word. And it doesn’t help us in the end. We’ve got to be above that, in Canada.”
He said his daughter “encompassed everyone in her love” and it wouldn’t feel right to not forgive.
“It would be denying what Sarah was about,” Demmitt said.
Adapted Vancouver Sun -November 8, 2018
In Alberta, senior drivers are denied their license to drive if they have been caught “Doctor Shopping”.