NEWS

Tow truck driver fined $2,000 for death of toddler

06/08/2012 10:12 EDT | Updated 08/08/2012 05:12 EDT

The tow truck driver who hit and killed a two-year-old girl in a Vancouver intersection three years ago has been fined $2,000 after pleading guilty to a lesser charge in court on Friday.

William Mah was originally charged with dangerous driving causing death, but the Crown agreed to a lesser charge of driving without due care and attention in exchange for the guilty plea.

On Friday the Crown lawyer David Simpkin told the court evidence gathered after Mah was initially charged, including expert opinions that he was travelling 12 kilometres per hour, meant there was no likelihood of conviction for the more serious charges.

Simpkins also said a surveillance video showed a skateboarder illegally entering the intersection, which may have distracted Mah.

Two-year-old Aoi Kazama was killed immediately when Mah's truck made a right hand turn and struck the stroller her mother was pushing across the intersection at Abbott Street and Expo Boulevard on Aug. 26, 2009. Her mother also sustained serious injuries and spent four months recovering in hospital.

The Crown says Mah's fine does not reflect the tragic death, but is simply punishment for a moment of inattention.

Family angry with decision

But the little girl's aunt Sheira Hallam-Barbieri says the Crown's decision to accept a guilty plea on the lesser charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine, has shattered their faith in the justice system:

"They will never be given the closure they need. Decisions have been made and deals have been struck by others, even though they are the family whose lives have been torn to shreds and whose baby was killed."

Hallam–Barbieri, said the family feels that in the case of the death of a child, a more serious outcome is called for.

“A $2,000 fine really doesn't represent the hardship and the sorrow and the pain this family has gone through," Hallam–Barbieri told CBC News.

Three years later the accident has left a void in the parents' lives, ruined their marriage, and left the mother with severe injuries that she continues to struggle with today, Hallam-Barbieri said.

"They're not well, but they are very strong people and they are going on with their lives,” she said. “It's very difficult to come home to a home that once had a child running around in it and there is no child there. That's very, very painful.”

Last week a spokesman for the Crown said that dangerous driving causing death can be difficult to prove, as it would require proof that Mah was criminally negligent.

The court has heard that since 2000, Mah has been ticketed for at least 16 traffic violations, including four for speeding and five for failing to stop at traffic lights or stop signs.

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