A young, emotionally fragile Calgary man who injured two pedestrians in a drunk driving accident has been spared jail.
Kieran Kretzel, 21, pleaded guilty last October to two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in November 2010. On Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Punnett decided jail was not appropriate for Kretzel and suspended the passing of sentence.
Punnett imposed a two-year driving prohibition and placed Kretzel on two years probation with conditions that include not drinking, performing 200 hours of community service and taking alcohol counselling as directed by his probation officer.
At Kretzel’s sentencing hearing last month, prosecutor Jess Patterson told the court that Kretzel was seen riding a small motorscooter on Broughton Street at 1:40 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2010. Two witnesses saw Kretzel, then 18, swerve and hit a parked car outside the Japanese Village restaurant. He then hopped on the scooter and took off, almost hitting the witnesses.
Kretzel then drove through a red light and struck two men crossing at Douglas Street, Patterson said. Kretzel lost control of his scooter and skidded through the intersection, stopping behind a Victoria police van.
Both men were treated at hospital. One man suffered permanent nerve damage in his right leg, Patterson said.
A Victoria police officer saw Kretzel pick up his scooter. He noted that Kretzel moved slowly, appeared confused, had slurred speech and smelled of liquor.
“The officer believed he was highly intoxicated,” Patterson said. His blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit.
Patterson asked Punnett to impose a jail sentence of 90 days to six months, plus a driving prohibition of two to three years.
Defence lawyer Bert King called the case exceptional and asked Punnett not to send Kretzel to jail, saying his life since the accident has been horrific.
Kretzel came to Victoria in November 2010 to check out the University of Victoria. He expected to stay with friends, but found they were out of town.
The scooter, which had a top speed of 50 kilometres an hour and did not require a motorcycle licence to operatae, was purchased a few days before the accident, King said.
Kretzel had no criminal record, rarely drinks, and “comes before you, unblemished, with true remorse,” the lawyer said.
In October 2012, Kretzel’s mother died suddenly of an aneurysm. When he arrived in Victoria for his sentencing hearing, King noticed the young man seemed depressed and he sent him for a psychological assessment.
The psychologist found Kretzel was devastated by his mother’s death and petrified of going to jail. He found Kretzel was deeply remorseful and emotionally fragile and concluded jail would be “acutely taxing on the psychological resources of this emotionally vulnerable man.”
Punnett found the aggravating factors of the offence included Kretzel’s high blood alcohol reading, and the fact he struck a car and nearly struck pedestrians and continued on his way. Kretzel’s age, lack of criminal record, guilty plea and genuine expression of remorse were found to be mitigating factors.
Punnett also found the risk taken by Kretzel in driving the scooter was less than that taken by the driver of an automobile or truck.
“The mass of the vehicle is smaller, its speed is limited, and while it is conceivable that serious injuries could result from his conduct, in my view, the probability is less than where a car or truck is involved,” the judge said.
“The moral culpability of this young man must be viewed in context of drinking and driving not an automobile with its great potential to cause serious injury and death, but a smaller scooter with a lesser propensity to do so.”
© Copyright 2013