An emotional Brittany Farrell broke down during her sentencing hearing at the Quinte Consolidated Courthouse on Friday apologizing for her actions that led to a serious collision north of Belleville last summer.
The 21-year-old pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm and Justice Stephen Hunter settled on giving Farrell an agreed sentence of nine months in jail.
“I’m so sorry,” Farrell cried to victim Thomas Graves as the 71-year-old compassionately held her hands following the sentencing.
“I wish you the best,” Graves said in return, genuinely empathetic.
“Thank you,” Farrell expressed to Graves before hugging her family and police led her away. “I’m so sorry.”
Court heard how after a night of partying in Belleville Farrell drove her parents’ red Hyundai Tiburon to a gas station in the area of Highway 62 and Millennium Parkway just before 6: 30 a.m. on July 18, 2016.
Video evidence would show Farrell displayed difficulty driving to the gas pumps and as she was leaving almost hit another vehicle.
As she traveled north on Highway 62, Farrell crossed the centre lane crashing into Graves’ southbound vehicle. Testing on Farrell would show THC, Ketamine and Alprazolam in her blood stream.
Both parties had to be extricated from their vehicles and were taken to Kingston General Hospital. Graves suffered head injuries, fractures to his right side, a laceration to his forehead, burns on his arm. Court heard how he has to walk with a cane and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the collision. Farrell sustained severe life threatening injuries. Among multiple injuries, Farrell suffered a snapped femur and she had her spleen removed. It was revealed Farrell now suffers from anxiety and depression following the crash.
“Mr. Graves is an extraordinary man displaying compassion and kindness,” said Assistant Crown attorney Lynn Ross. “He wants her (Farrell) to continue to speak to high school students about this matter. She has suffered both physically and mentally and he thought it would help both of them move past this. When she spoke to students she is emotional and remorseful. A victim sat in on her speech and was pleased to hear the sincerity of her remorse. You could have heard a pin drop in the courtroom that day. Students took her comments seriously.”
A visibly saddened and shaken Farrell attempted to read an apology to the court however her lawyer Jordan Tekenos-Levy who maintained his client was remorseful volunteered to voice it for her.
“I’m sorry for the pain I have caused physically and emotionally,” read Tekenos-Levy. “I never intended to hurt you (Graves), myself or anyone. We are more than blessed you are recovering. I can feel your injuries as they are described to me. I pray for you. I hope with this you may find some bliss. I think about you and your family every night.”
In handing down his verdict, Justice Hunter said he was mindful of Farrell’s young age, her guilty plea and injuries. He said he finds it surprising how long it takes for a lesson to be learned not by the victim or the accused but by the public in general.
“There are no winners when someone drives impaired, only losers,” said Hunter.
He said in most cases the accused doesn’t have the character of a criminal in the sense that they don’t set out to harm or deprive.
“Their actions demonstrate a reckless criminality and there is a price to be paid for that,” Hunter explained. “During my 26 years on the bench I have sentenced far too many people where someone was killed. At least no one was killed in this instance. The only way to deter impaired driving is through education. Brittany has started that and I hope that will continue.”
He also noted that given Farrell doesn’t have a criminal record, any length in jail for a first time offender is significant.
Hunter also gave Farrell two years probation, a three year driving prohibition, she must attend alcohol and substance abuse counselling and has agreed to speak to school children about the dangers associated with impaired driving.