A Columbia Fuels driver who crashed his truck, spilling 43,000 litres of gasoline and 700 litres of diesel into Goldstream River last spring has received a three-month conditional sentence, followed by nine months probation.
That means he wont have to spend any time in a jail cell.
In June, James Allan Smith, 35, of Nanaimo, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and to a charge of violating the Fisheries Act by depositing a deleterious substance into water inhabited by fish in connection with the April 2011 incident.
On Monday, Victoria provincial court Judge Sue Wishart imposed the conditional sentence order on the dangerous-driving charge along with a one-year driving prohibition. Because the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles suspended Smiths licence for two years in May 2011, he will be prohibited from driving for 21â2 years.
On the Fisheries Act charge, Wishart suspended the sentence and ordered Smith to perform 200 hours of community service, conserving fish habitat in the waters on and around Vancouver Island.
Outside court, Smiths defence lawyer, Dale Marshall, said his client is looking forward to the opportunity to put some time back in the community.
Hes hoping time will heal all wounds, including the community and his own, Marshall said.
On April 16, 2011, Smith drove a semi-truck pulling two full tankers down the Malahat from Duncan to Victoria. Witnesses saw the truck swerving, at times speeding up, then slowing down.
Several drivers were concerned about the erratic driving and distanced themselves from the truck, Wishart noted. Near the entrance to Goldstream Park, Smith lost control of the truck and crashed into a rock wall. Both tankers flipped on their sides and began losing fuel.
One of the most aggravating factors is [that] Mr. Smith had been consuming alcohol in the hours between his shift ending at 2 a.m. and starting again at 2 p.m. During this time, he only slept a few hours prior to starting his shift in the afternoon, Wishart said.
A pre-sentence report described Smith as a functioning alcoholic, who isolated himself from friends and family so no one was aware of the extent of his drinking. He used alcohol as a means of coping with his depression, Wishart said.
Smiths driving was also an aggravating factor, Wishart said. He was driving a large fuel truck on the steep, sharply curved highway, where fatalities occur each year.
Smith should have taken extra caution, but instead endangered himself and other drivers on the road, the judge said.
She found Smiths guilty pleas, which saved the expense of a trial, to be a mitigating factor. Wishart also accepted that Smith was truly remorseful.
He realizes how fortunate he was not to hurt himself or others, said the judge.
Wishart believed Smith has been deterred from similar driving in the future because the incident received a lot of media attention, but she also wanted his sentence to deter others.
While serving his conditional sentence, Smith must obey an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, Wishart said. Smith is not allowed to drink alcohol and must take counselling, which could include full-time attendance in a program for alcohol abuse, as directed by his probation officer. Smith will not be bound by a curfew during his probation, but he must continue to abstain from alcohol and take counselling as directed.
Although provincial environmental prosecutor John Blackman had asked for a fine of up to $10,000, Wishart found Smith was a man of limited means and ordered community-service work.
The federal fisheries officer involved in the spill cleanup will be in contact with the Nanaimo probation office to establish the work Smith will do.
A blood sample taken three hours after the accident showed Smith had a blood-alcohol level almost three times the legal limit.
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