POLITICS

Brandon Pardi, Quebecer Who Killed Toddler Bianca Leduc With Car, Avoids Prison Time

06/05/2012 01:15 EDT | Updated 08/05/2012 05:12 EDT
SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. - A Quebec man who killed a toddler with his car on the day he turned 18 will not be going to prison.

Brandon Pardi was found guilty last December of dangerous driving causing the death of three-year-old Bianca Leduc in 2007.

On Tuesday, Quebec court Judge Michel Mercier sentenced Pardi to two years less a day to be served in the community. In the first year, he will be under house arrest with conditions for when he goes out.

Pardi is also forbidden from driving for three years.

His case gained national notoriety when he fought to be tried as a juvenile because the crime occurred on his first day as an adult.

The age battle led to the case getting to trial more than than three years after the death on Oct. 31, 2007.

Citing an Alberta ruling, Quebec court initially said a 24-hour grace period was allowed for someone committing a crime on his or her 18th birthday.

The Crown appealed the Quebec ruling, which was overturned by Superior Court. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld that decision in 2009, prompting a Supreme Court challenge.

However, Canada's highest court refused to hear his case and Pardi was eventually tried as an adult.

Pardi and a friend were driving separate vehicles in a residential neighbourhood west of Montreal when Pardi lost control while speeding and struck the other car. Pardi's vehicle careened into the yard, killing the girl as she hung Halloween decorations on her babysitter's lawn.

The co-accused, who was a minor at the time, was acquitted after a separate trial heard before youth court last year.

The defence in the Pardi case argued the death was an accident, while the Crown blamed him for a series of poor decisions.

The learner's permit he possessed required he drive with someone with a valid licence and he told the court he didn't know how to handle the manual transmission car he was driving. An expert testified he was driving two or three times the 30 km/h speed limit.

Tuesday's sentence drew the ire of the dead girl's family. Her mother, Nadine Leduc, stormed out of the courtroom cursing at the justice system and crying. She has said previously she holds Pardi responsible for Bianca's death.

Pardi's lawyer, Pierre Joyal, said no sentence would have satisfied the victim's family. He added that vengeance is not the goal of the justice system and refused to call Tuesday's sentence a victory.

"We're not happy, we're not happy," Joyal told reporters.

"Like I mentioned . . . when this case started, , there is no victory, just relief, but we're not happy."

The defence argued that community service or a fine would be sufficient punishment, while the Crown was seeking a four-year prison term.

Crown prosecutor Joey Dubois said a sentence with house arrest is still technically a jail sentence, but added he understands it's not enough for the victim's family and how it could be perceived as sending the wrong message.

Pardi has appealed the guilty verdict.

The Crown has said it will look at the judgment before deciding whether to do the same with the sentence.

— Written by Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal