The events of Aug. 13, 2016 had major life altering consequences for many people, that Justice Brian Furey said there is no going back from.
Furey made the comments in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook on Thursday afternoon after he sentenced Nicholas Shears-Decker to two years less a day in jail on charges related to the accident that killed his friend David White on that day.
Shears-Decker, 27, of Rocky Harbour admitted he had been drinking prior to the accident that occurred at 11:12 p.m. when his car went off the road on Route 430, just south of St. Paul’s on the Northern Peninsula. Shears-Decker failed to negotiate a turn in the road. An accident reconstruction report indicated the vehicle was travelling at 133 kilometres per hour in a 90 km/h zone.
Mr. White, 20, who was also from Rocky Harbour, was the front seat passenger and died of blunt force trauma to his head. He was wearing a seatbelt at the time.
Two other passengers in the back seat of the car were injured.
After being taken to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Rocky Harbour Shears-Decker refused a request by police to provide a sample of his breath.
Shears-Decker was convicted on Feb. 14 after earlier pleading guilty to two charges — refusing to provide a breath sample after his operation of a motor vehicle resulted in an accident that caused death and refusing to provide a breath sample after his operation of a motor vehicle resulted in an accident caused bodily harm.
Inside the courtroom a dozen supporters sat quietly, men and women wiping tears from their eyes, as they waited for the sentencing hearing to begin. Among them were Shears-Decker’s wife, his parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles.
When Decker entered the prisoners box he broke down in tears. And throughout the appearance his six-month-old son, whose middle name is David in honour of his friend, could be heard crying at times outside the court room.
When he began his oral decision in the matter, Furey said cases involving impaired driving and all the consequences which evolve from them are particularly disturbing to society.
“These are tragic, devastating and life-lasting consequences.
“However, one might say that these matters are not disturbing enough because such cases continue to occur at an alarming rate,” he said.
“Mr. Shears-Decker chose to drive that night in a manner which was so dangerous that his good friend was killed and his two other friends were injured.
“His moral culpability is great.”
Later Furey said Shears-Decker will have to live with the consequences and memories of his actions on that night for the rest of his life.
Furey imposed the two years less a day sentence on the refusal charge that resulted in the death of Mr. White, and four months, to be served concurrently, on the refusal that resulted in bodily harm to the other two passengers.
Shears-Decker is also prohibited from operating a motor vehicle for the duration of this sentence and three years after.
At the completion of his sentence he’ll be subject to a probation order for three years. Conditions include that he have no contact with any victim or the family of Mr. White, unless they provide written consent. He must also pay a victim fine surcharge to the court in the amount of $400.