MANDEL: ‘It should have been me,’ says driver who killed mom and daughters

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Brady Robertson says he’s sorry — as well he should be.

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But if the dangerous driver were truly sorry for taking the lives of Karolina Ciasullo and her three little girls two years ago, he’d be ready to do his time.

Real time — not the laughable seven years proposed by his lawyer.

Robertson was a perfect storm of menace: The 20-year-old was driving while under two driving suspensions in a car improperly registered and without insurance, speeding at 134 km/h in a 70 km/h zone to outrun a Peel police officer, while high on eight times the legal driving limit of THC.

But his lawyer says that because of his sad upbringing and recently discovered Metis heritage, Robertson should be sentenced to just seven years in prison for running a red light and killing Ciasullo and daughters Klara, 6, Lilianna, 3, and Mila, 1 in a horrific June 2020 crash in Brampton.

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With three years credit for pre-trial custody, that would mean just one year for each of his victims — but of course, the young first offender would likely serve little more than 16 months in total before he was released on parole.

Defense lawyer Craig Bottomley acknowledged Robertson must be sentenced for the tragedy he caused, but told the judge he’s a young man with a disadvantaged upbringing.

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“His life has been marked by poverty, abuse, abandonment, drug use since he was a child,” he said. “Mr. Robertson is not a monster, he’s a kid. He’s a sweet, funny, flawed child with a very difficult past.”

Early on, Robertson pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous driving causing death in the tragedy. He was convicted on four additional charges of impaired driving causing death after Ontario court Judge Sandra Caponecchia rejected his argument that the “arbitrary and overbroad” legal THC limit of 5 ng/mL is unconstitutional.

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Screenshot of Brady Robertson at St. Michael's Hospital (court exhibit)
Screenshot of Brady Robertson at St. Michael’s Hospital (court exhibit)

She also found him guilty of dangerous driving in a fail-to-remain crash that happened two days earlier in Caledon.

Robertson certainly sounded sincere when given the chance to address the court at the end of Monday’s sentencing hearing. Now 21, he said he’ll forever be haunted by his “selfish, reckless” actions and wishes he could have died that day, instead of the beloved teacher and her three daughters.

“It should have been me,” he said.

Robertson considered suicide but decided that it would be the coward’s way out. He also knew knew his words of apology could never ease the pain of the girls’ father, but he wanted him to know that he’ll live with guilt for the rest of his life for driving “like a maniac with a disregard for others’ safety because I was selfish and careless.”

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The Crown is seeking an unprecedented 23-year term behind bars, a lifetime driving ban and an unusual delayed parole eligibility for 10 years — or half his sentence — whichever is less. Prosecutor Patrick Quilty complained the courts and the parole board haven’t been tough enough when it comes to those convicted of driving offences.

I have noted the infamous case of drunk driver Marco Muzzo. Sentenced to what was considered a harsh 10 years for killing three children and their grandfather in 2015, he was released on parole day after just four years.

“Like a lot of people, perhaps the parole board doesn’t consider driving offenses to be true crimes. We see it in courts — that people who commit driving offenses are just good people who made a mistake, they’re not truly criminals.”

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Quilty argued that this case was even worse than Muzzo’s: Robertson had a terrible driving record, was under suspension for unpaid fines, and was driving at high speed while impaired. “This case comes very close to being the worst of the worst. It’s hard to imagine conduct worse than Mr. Robertson’s.”

And so he should receive a longer sentence, Quilty said, especially as it comes after Parliament increased penalties for driving offences.

From his words – if not his lawyer’s – it would seem Robertson agrees.

“I want to pay for what I did. I want to serve my time I get. This family deserves justice,” he said. “I’m 100% responsible for this and I take complete accountability.”

Robertson will be sentenced May 16.

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