Crown counsel asked for three to five years of jail time – with a sentence at the higher end of that range – and a 10 year driving prohibition at the sentencing hearing for Langford resident Kenneth Jacob Fenton, who pleaded guilty last month to two charges stemming from the collision that killed West Shore RCMP officer Const. Sarah Beckett.
The defense asked for three years of jail time and five years driving prohibition.
Court was in session for nearly all of Wednesday at the Western Communities Courthouse in Colwood and proceedings couldn’t be completed by the end of the day. The case has been adjourned to July 6.
Fenton pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death. Beckett was killed after Fenton struck her police cruiser at the Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road intersection in Langford last year.
A recording of the dispatch call from an officer attempting to pull over Fenton prior to the crash was played Wednesday during the hearing, as were surveillance videos that depicted the crash and the aftermath.
It was estimated that Fenton was travelling between 72 and 90 km/h at the time of the crash according to an agreed statement of facts.
He was travelling south on Peatt Road while Beckett was travelling east on Goldstream Avenue, returning to the local detachment after a different investigation. Fenton’s traffic light had been red for eight seconds prior to the collision and a security camera showed that he did not apply his brakes prior to the crash.
The officer trailing Fenton had turned on flashing lights but not sirens five to seven seconds before the crash and was attempting to pull Fenton over because his taillights were off.
Contrary to earlier reports, Fenton was not attempting to flee or intentionally failing to stop, according to the agreed statement.
Photos shown of beer cans throughout Fenton's vehicle. @GoldstreamNews— Joel Tansey (@joelgazette) June 28, 2017
Blood samples taken at the hospital just under an hour after the collision indicated Fenton’s blood alcohol level was three and a half times the legal limit.
He reportedly told nurses the night of the crash that he would kill himself rather than serve life in prison.
Courtroom sees surveillance video of crash at Peatt and Goldstream that killed Const. Beckett. @GoldstreamNews— Joel Tansey (@joelgazette) June 28, 2017
Photos showed the driver’s side of Beckett’s cruiser was crushed by the impact of the collision and the steering wheel was severed. Beckett was not responsive at any point after the collision and had two wounds that were deemed to have been enough to kill her on their own.
Beckett’s widow Brad Aschenbrenner was visibly emotional as he read his victim impact statement for the court. He recalled that on the morning his wife was killed, he awoke in the night and felt like something was wrong.
“I didn’t know what it was, but I was very worried. And then a hesistant knock on the door, the knock of someone not wanting to knock. I saw the police car and the swollen eyes of the officers and I knew,” he recalled.
But the toughest part of his day, Aschenbrenner said, was telling the couple’s oldest son, five at the time of the collision, that his mother wouldn’t be coming home and the look he saw on his son’s face.
“I’ve relived this look every day since,” he said.
Tearful Brad Aschenbrenner tells court that he will never forget the look on son's face when he told of Beckett's death. @GoldstreamNews— Joel Tansey (@joelgazette) June 28, 2017
While outlining the principles of sentencing, Crown counsel noted there’s simply no excuse for drunk driving and despite harsher sentences and awareness campaigns, many still do not understand the severity of it.
They deemed Fenton’s elevated blood alchohol level, the speed at which he was travelling and a driving record that included nine entries between 2006 and 2013 as aggravating factors to the offence.
In conversations with nurses at the hospital on the morning of the collision, Fenton is reported to have pointed the blame toward Beckett, which the Crown argued was another aggravating factor.
They submitted that his early guilty plea – Fenton is said to have told the Crown of his plan to plead guilty as early as January of this year – his age and his lack of prior criminal convictions as mitigating factors.
Fenton’s lawyer Dale Marshall described his client as “youthful” and said that he hadn’t consumed any alcohol since September of last year.
He also argued against the Crown’s notion that his client’s comments to nurses were aggravating factors, as he says his client was in a state of shock. Fenton has shown remorse for his actions, Marshall said, which will be evident when he eventually speaks in front of the court.
The defence will submit relevant case law when sentencing resumes.
Fenton is also facing charges from a crash that occurred in May 2016 on Goldstream Heights Road, including impaired driving causing bodily harm.