The Ottawa driver convicted of striking and injuring five cyclists and leaving the scene of the 2009 crash has been sentenced to two years less a day.
Sommit Luangpakham, 47, was found guilty Oct. 20 in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa on all 10 charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident in the Kanata, Ont., crash.
On Monday, Justice Monique Mativier sentenced him to nine months for dangerous driving and 15 months for leaving the scene of the crash, which will be served consecutively. She said there was no evidence of recklessness in his driving, but she cited a lack of human decency for Luangpakham's failure to remain at the scene.
The Crown attorney had sought a four-year sentence while Luangpakham's defence lawyer Richard Addelman had asked for between 12 and 18 months.
Luangpakham made a formal apology at court. He turned to the victims and bowed his head, saying he was "very sorry" for the pain he caused them. Luangpakham said he would have turned around if he knew he had hit them and will live with this for the "rest of my life."
The five Kanata cyclists were riding single file in a bicycle lane on March Road in July 2009 when they were struck by Luangpakham's van. Four of the five cyclists were seriously hurt.
Victim impact statements were read in court Friday.
Victim calls sentence 'fair'
After the sentence was read Monday, Cathy Anderson said the decision was "fair."
Speaking to reporters outside the Ottawa court, Anderson said she did not want another person's life destroyed because of the crash — she and her partner Robert Wein continue to live with the injuries they suffered in the incident.
Hans Moore, the president of Ottawa advocacy group Citizens for Safe Cycling, said he hopes Luangpakham realizes what he did was wrong.
Moore said the case brought the relationship between cylists and drivers in Ottawa to the forefront.
"I think it really made an impact on how drivers perceive cyclists and the other way around — that cyclists do know they can be vulnerable in traffic," Moore said.
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