On Tuesday, semi-truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to all 29 charges stemming from a devastating crash involving the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
His guilty plea, along with the clear remorse he’s shown, is likely to be a major factor in his eventual sentencing, predicts one legal expert.
Jennifer Quaid, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said the overwhelming scale of last spring’s tragedy isn’t the only factor the sentencing judge will have to weigh.
"Yes, it’s an extremely serious accident and there are multiple counts. There’s one for each victim," she said. "But he is also a first−time offender. He’s young."
Quaid says it’s impossible to know the full reasoning that went into Sidhu’s guilty plea, but added that she can’t see a scenario where the 30-year-old avoids prison time entirely.
Mark Brayford, Sidhu’s lawyer, said his client didn’t want to make things worse by having a trial and is devastated by the grief he’s caused the victims’ families.
Quaid says that will likely resonate during his sentencing and it’s “going to be up to the judge to assess the sincerity and credibility of the remorse."
Another part of the sentencing will be the other factors in the crash, as there have been concerns raised about visibility at the rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask., where the crash occurred.
Sidhu faces 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years, while it’s 10 years for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
A sentencing hearing for Sidhu is set to begin on Jan. 30.
With files from the Canadian Press.