08/04/2011 04:38 EDT | Updated 10/04/2011 05:12 EDT

Jack Tobin Sentencing: Victim's Family Speaks


OTTAWA - Susan Morgan has been "living every parent's nightmare" since her only boy was accidentally run over and killed by his good friend — the son of former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin.

"Our sorrow at his loss is endless," Morgan said in a victim impact statement Thursday as Jack Tobin sat stone faced awaiting his fate at the hands of a provincial court judge.

"It was such a violent and unexpected death."

Tobin pleaded guilty in May to impaired driving causing death after Alex Zolpis was pinned beneath a pickup truck during parking-lot shenanigans on Christmas Eve.

Brian Tobin sat at his son's side as the defence lawyer told a sentencing hearing about the qualities of the young Tobin's character and his "privileged" family upbringing.

Norman Boxall described the 24-year-old Tobin as a "courageous, kind and generous person."

Outside of the incident that killed his friend, Boxall said Tobin is considered by those who know him as a "responsible person."

Boxall asked for a sentence of between 18 and 30 months, along with a five-year driving ban. Prosecutors are seeking a five-year prison sentence and 10-year driving ban.

Morgan said she is a pediatrician who sees children daily as part of her job. Their youthful faces make "every day at work ... a struggle in grief," she said.

She condemned drinking and driving, adding "we will never be the same."

Her daughter and her son's former girlfriend both sobbed while the statements were read, and each had difficulty keeping their composure as they gave their own.

Sister Meaghan Zolpis said she had to feed her grief-stricken parents as they sat in stunned silence on Christmas Day. She said she is filled with guilt and regret.

"Young people don't take drinking and driving seriously, and this must stop," Zolpis said. "Nobody else should lose their Alex."

Emma Roberts said she and Alex Zolpis had discussed marriage and children.

"Every day I am hit by a wave of loneliness, despair and sadness," Roberts said. "I no longer feel joy or happiness. ... This was all preventable."

Boxall and Crown prosecutor Mark Moors spent most of the afternoon submitting arguments over the length of sentence that should be imposed.

Both were questioned by the judge about whether Tobin's driving record should be taken into account in sentencing, which includes an array of past convictions and licence suspensions. While he conceded the judge could look at that record, Boxall pointed out Tobin's past driving habits included no criminal convictions.

The hearing continues Friday. It's not clear when Tobin will be sentenced.

Tobin has been free on bail since Christmas Day and living with his parents in Ottawa.