The lawyer for a serial drunk driver with more than 20 convictions won a controversial adjournment yesterday at Dartmouth provincial court.
Over the strenuous objections of the Crown, defence lawyer Peter Planetta won a two-month delay for the sentencing of his client, 51-year-old Terry Naugle.
Planetta said he wrote the judge Monday claiming he wasn’t prepared for the hearing. Prosecutors say they were never told.
“When I came into the building, I heard rumours from people off the street that this matter was going to be adjourned. So it was news to me,” Crown lawyer Cheryl Byard told reporters outside the courtroom.
Planetta told the court the lack of notification must have been a mistake. He had no comment when reached afterwards.
Typically, days served before a sentence count as double time, but Byard said she would ask the judge not to give Naugle double credit.
The case stems from a March 28 incident where Naugle allegedly struck a car carrying David and Julia McMillan of Tatamagouche, and their daughter Jill. Naugle had already been banned from driving after numerous DUI charges and convictions.
The McMillans expressed frustration after taking a day off work with no pay to go to court yesterday.
“We’re very angry and very frustrated,” Julia McMillan said. “We feel like they’re just toying with our lives to do that. And they get away with it. Our system allows them to do this.”
Naugle’s niece, Stacey Strickland, said she was also frustrated with the defence lawyer. She said she was not informed of the delay request either, nor was Naugle when she talked to him Monday evening.
Naugle pleaded guilty in October to leaving the scene of an accident, refusing a breathalyzer test and driving after being banned from operating a vehicle. All three counts carry maximum penalties of five years. Byard said she will ask for at least two to be served consecutively, rather than at the same time.