Tracy Dawn Smith, a 36-year-old mother of three, pleaded guilty on June 19 to impaired driving causing the death of Jana Mahenthiran on Canada Day 2011.
On Dec. 6, Victoria provincial Judge Robert Higinbotham imposed a one-day jail sentence on Smith, followed by three years’ probation. He ordered Smith to continue treatment with the VisionQuest Recovery Society at Harte House in Surrey, where she has essentially been under house arrest since the crash. Higinbotham also imposed a 10-year driving prohibition and ordered Smith to complete an additional 200 hours of community service.
On Friday, the criminal justice branch issued a news release saying it’s seeking to have Smith’s sentence “substantially increased.” A tentative hearing date has been set for Feb. 27 in Victoria.
Lawyer Bob Jones, who represented Smith during the proceedings, said he was disappointed by the decision. “Tracy Smith was released into a treatment centre. She’s gone through almost 18 months of treatment and probably benefits more from that than languishing in a provincial institution where she’s going to get minimal counselling and probably be surrounded by some notorious characters who might well steal any recovery she’s made,” he said.
Jones said he did not get the impression people were outraged by the sentence, but he didn’t know if the Crown or Attorney General’s office received myriad letters complaining that impaired drivers deserve heavier sentences.
“In my view, they’re bowing to the mob,” said Jones. “In [Charles Dickens’s] A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge is knitting in the front row at the Place de la Concorde, yelling ‘;Off with his head.’
“This is the reaction, frankly. This was a reasoned and sensible decision, one structured towards rehabilitation, with the proviso in it that if Tracy breaches a condition, she’s going to go to jail.”
Smith has shown she is remorseful and has done her best to modify her behaviour, Jones said.
When he spoke to Smith on Thursday, she didn’t seem upset, he said. “She might have been worried this was going to happen all along.”
© Copyright 2013