Man gets 22 months for negligence after Ucluelet grandmother killed by boat trailer

Judge rules poverty no excuse for Van Nho Nguyen's fatal trip in unsafe, overloaded vehicle

People should not be punished for their poverty.

But poverty is no excuse for putting an unsafe vehicle on the road.

So ruled a B.C. Court judge when he sentenced Van Nho Nguyen to 22 months in jail for criminal negligence and prohibited him from driving for 10 years in connection with an incident that killed a woman near Ucluelet.

“A person who cannot afford to maintain his vehicle in a safe condition must not drive it,” Judge Ted Gouge ruled May 31 in a Port Alberni B.C. court judgement released last week.

“The sentence in this case must make the point with sufficient force and clarity that others in Mr. Nguyen’s position will take their vehicles off the road until they can be restored to safe operating condition.”

Lorraine Ennis, 77, described by the court as a much-loved mother and grandmother, died Jan. 30, 2014, while collecting bottles to donate to charity. Ennis was walking along a roadside path when Nguyen’s fishtailing boat trailer struck her, then dragged her body 15 metres. Nguyen had applied his brakes while descending a hill, causing the trailer to swing out like a pendulum.

The court blamed the incident on mechanical deficiencies in Nguyen’s truck and trailer, as well as the size of the boat relative to the trailer. The trailer tires were worn and mismatched. One was 30 years old. The trailer’s brakes had been disabled. The load was about 50 per cent over the recommended limit for the trailer and approximately 33 per cent overweight for the rating of his truck. The court ruled the load issues should have been obvious to anyone.

Although Nguyen, 58, had no criminal record, the judge cited seven convictions under the Fisheries Act and nine under the Motor Vehicle Act as evidence of a longstanding pattern of disregard for regulation. He called his decision to drive an obviously unsafe vehicle “considered and deliberate.”

However, Gouge also gave consideration to the fact Nguyen was unemployed at the time and no longer working as a fisherman due to health problems. Instead, he was collecting scrap metal and recycling as his primary source of income.

“The question in the case is: What is a just sanction for a poor person who drives a vehicle which he knows to be unsafe because he cannot afford to maintain it in a safe condition and kills an innocent citizen as a result?” he said.

“It is fair to say that he was aware of the danger which his vehicle posed to public safety, and deliberately took the risk,” he ruled. “This was a very grave offence, and Mr. Nguyen bears sole responsibility for it.

 

Just Posted

Greater Victoria riders ready to race at track cycling provincials in Colwood

Westshore Velodrome to see a mix of new, older and master riders

Playground honouring RCMP constable and mother killed by drunk driver in Langford to open on time

‘There will be a few tears’: Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens on Aug. 24

Driver crashes into Victoria home causing significant damage to front yard

Impairment believed to be a factor in early morning crash

Three churches joining for a night through the power of music

Anyone who can play an instrument welcome to join Christian rockers Bruce and Cheryl Harding

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after Const. Beckett’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Talk of climate change could be viewed as advocating against Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada

Search crews find 4-year-old boy who went missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Most Read