Man gets 22 months for negligence after Ucluelet grandmother killed by boat trailer

Judge rules poverty no excuse for Van Nho Nguyen's fatal trip in unsafe, overloaded vehicle

People should not be punished for their poverty.

But poverty is no excuse for putting an unsafe vehicle on the road.

So ruled a B.C. Court judge when he sentenced Van Nho Nguyen to 22 months in jail for criminal negligence and prohibited him from driving for 10 years in connection with an incident that killed a woman near Ucluelet.

“A person who cannot afford to maintain his vehicle in a safe condition must not drive it,” Judge Ted Gouge ruled May 31 in a Port Alberni B.C. court judgement released last week.

“The sentence in this case must make the point with sufficient force and clarity that others in Mr. Nguyen’s position will take their vehicles off the road until they can be restored to safe operating condition.”

Lorraine Ennis, 77, described by the court as a much-loved mother and grandmother, died Jan. 30, 2014, while collecting bottles to donate to charity. Ennis was walking along a roadside path when Nguyen’s fishtailing boat trailer struck her, then dragged her body 15 metres. Nguyen had applied his brakes while descending a hill, causing the trailer to swing out like a pendulum.

The court blamed the incident on mechanical deficiencies in Nguyen’s truck and trailer, as well as the size of the boat relative to the trailer. The trailer tires were worn and mismatched. One was 30 years old. The trailer’s brakes had been disabled. The load was about 50 per cent over the recommended limit for the trailer and approximately 33 per cent overweight for the rating of his truck. The court ruled the load issues should have been obvious to anyone.

Although Nguyen, 58, had no criminal record, the judge cited seven convictions under the Fisheries Act and nine under the Motor Vehicle Act as evidence of a longstanding pattern of disregard for regulation. He called his decision to drive an obviously unsafe vehicle “considered and deliberate.”

However, Gouge also gave consideration to the fact Nguyen was unemployed at the time and no longer working as a fisherman due to health problems. Instead, he was collecting scrap metal and recycling as his primary source of income.

“The question in the case is: What is a just sanction for a poor person who drives a vehicle which he knows to be unsafe because he cannot afford to maintain it in a safe condition and kills an innocent citizen as a result?” he said.

“It is fair to say that he was aware of the danger which his vehicle posed to public safety, and deliberately took the risk,” he ruled. “This was a very grave offence, and Mr. Nguyen bears sole responsibility for it.

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: City of Colwood hosts a ‘heartwarming start’ to the holidays

Colwood Christmas Light Up Celebration sees surge in attendance

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Trauma sufferers support group takes shape on West Shore

Aaron’s Society open to more peer support groups with certified trauma practitioners

Hundreds of students gather at Government House to decorate Christmas Trees

The annual tradition let Grade 2 and 3 students help celebrate for the holidays

Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

Tenants evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read