A Brampton man was convicted of the “horrible” death of a Brampton forklift driver who was killed while cycling to work by a runaway trailer that had just been stolen from a nearby U-Haul lot.
The man who stole the trailer, Pritpal Lehl, sat next to his lawyer inside Brampton Superior Court on Wednesday when Judge David E. Harris found him guilty of criminal negligence that caused death and did not stop at the scene of the accident that killed 39 years. old Paul De Pledge.
“There was a total failure to take the rudimentary security measures,” Harris said. “What happened, in this case, must be differentiated from a person who simply made a mistake.”
De Pledge was riding his bike to work at a Brampton business on Summerlea Road, where he was covering a shift for a co-worker, shortly after 6 a.m. on August 1, 2018, when he was struck and dragged about 60 meters down the road. stolen trailer. , which had disengaged and crossed into oncoming traffic. De Pledge was found dead about two hours later, pinned to the wall of a business a stone’s throw from his workplace, Harris said.
In its decision, the judge found that the trailer had become unhitched due to Lehl’s rush to place it in a previously stolen white van. Lehl, whose plot was planned and deliberate, was unable to secure the safety hooks of the stolen trailer and was speeding while towing it, Harris discovered.
This amounted to a “marked and substantial deviation” from the actions of a reasonable person, the judge said.
The court also heard how the truck was captured on video speeding away from the scene of the collision, evidence that the driver, Lehl, must have known that the trailer caused the collision, Harris found.
“The sudden acceleration of the truck from a near-complete stop after the trailer is out of sight is powerful evidence,” Harris said. Later, Lehl abandoned the truck and removed his license plates, actions that demonstrate his guilty conscience, the judge found.
Lehl’s identity as a driver was an issue in a trial that relied on sometimes unclear surveillance footage and testimony from Lehl’s then-girlfriend, Joyce Pasiecznick, who testified being with him in the van.
Harris noted that Lehl and Pasiecznick were captured on surveillance footage exiting the same white cargo van outside a local casino the night before.
“Millisecond. Pasiecznick’s evidence that the defendant was the driver and the person who hitched the van in the U-Haul parking lot is confirmed by independent evidence,” Harris said.
Although the truck was stolen a month before the collision, Harris found Lehl not guilty of possessing stolen property, saying the evidence shows he had only had it for a week, and the Crown was unable to prove that he knew it had been stolen. .