FREDERICTON – A Crown prosecutor says a woman who drove the car that killed Dianne Trottier as she tried to cross the road in her wheelchair last summer in Fredericton should serve up to 2 1/2 years in prison for leaving the scene of the accident.
Cameron Gunn told a provincial court judge that Darcie Victoria West might not have faced any charges if she had stopped her car on the night of Aug. 29.
“It is a terrible tragedy compounded by a series of cowardly acts,” he said in recommending a prison sentence of two to 2 1/2 years for West, minus time already served in custody.
West, 20, and Tiffany Monroe, 28, were scheduled for sentencing Thursday along with West’s father, Kevin West, 50. Judge Mary Jane Richards adjourned sentencing until May 6.
West, who lives in Chipman, about 75 kilometres northwest of Fredericton, pleaded guilty earlier this month to leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to render assistance, and attempting to impede justice.
Defence lawyer David Lutz said Trottier was hard to see on the night of the accident and it’s believed her wheelchair was not in the crosswalk.
“Darcie did not cause the accident and it was not her fault,” he said. “She is to be sentenced for what she did after the accident and not coming forward to police directly.”
Lutz told the court that she should serve a year in jail, and he asked for a conditional sentence for Monroe, who pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice by destroying evidence.
Kevin West pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact because, court heard, he moved the car on the day after the accident. He told the judge he tried to get his daughter and Monroe to turn themselves in.
Gunn recommended that Kevin West be sentenced to a year in jail to be served consecutively with a sentence he is serving on another charge. He asked for a sentence of three to six months for Monroe.
Trottier, who worked for the CBC in Toronto and was working temporarily in Fredericton, had been in the New Brunswick city for less than a week to help launch a new suppertime news program.
In a victim-impact statement, Patricia Trottier told the court her 33-year-old daughter never let osteogenesis imperfecta – a genetic disorder commonly known as brittle bone disease – slow her down.
She said her daughter’s death has been devastating for family, friends and her co-workers at the CBC.
“Knowing I will never be able to speak with her again is too much to bear,” she said. “I love you, Dianne, you will be in my thoughts forever.”
Trottier’s aunt, Anita McLaughlin, said she feels as if she has lost a daughter.
“The nightmare continues and the crying doesn’t stop,” she said.
In court on Thursday, West sobbed as she asked for forgiveness from Trottier’s family.
“I made a horrible mistake and I feel awful,” she said. “I feel so terrible for not stopping.”
Monroe read a short statement expressing her remorse.
“I am so sorry I didn’t come forward after the accident,” she said. “It is a choice I have regretted.”
Court heard the women later took the car to a body shop to repair the damage caused by the accident.
The three were arrested after a lengthy police investigation and pleas to the public for information. Crime Stoppers and Fredericton police also videotaped a recreation of the crash, resulting in new leads in the case.