MELFORT — On the final day of his sentencing hearing, the semi-truck driver that pleaded guilty in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash expressed remorse for his actions.
"I take full responsibility for what has happened. It happened because of my lack of experience,” Jaskirat Singh Sidhu said in court Jan. 31.
Addressing the families, Sidhu said, “I can't imagine what you are going through, what you've been through... I have taken the most valuable things of your life.”
That statement came after crown prosecutor Thomas Healey and Sidhu’s defence lawyer Mark Brayford gave their arguments about what the sentence should be.
Healey recommended a 10-year prison sentence for Sidhu.
“We’re proposing it here that the consequences warrant a sentence of 10 years,” Healey said. “The sentence the crown is proposing will send a message to all drivers, including Mr. Sidhu.”
He said Sidhu’s logbook violations were not a factor in his recommendation.
Healey also said Sidhu should have seen the vehicle stopped at the stop sign on the other side of the road.
“How do you miss that? It’s just astounding.”
The crown prosecutor said there has never been a collision in Saskatchewan's history with as far-reaching impacts as this one, making it unique.
Defence lawyer Brayford told the court as Sidhu approached the intersection, a tarp covering the peat moss he was transporting had begun flapping.
“This was a complete distraction to him,” Brayford said. “He was clearly focused on the problem with the tarps and then anybody who’s experienced – as you know you can’t look behind you on the highway. You need to be focused in front of you.”
Brayford said he wasn’t suggesting his client wasn’t guilty.
“He beats himself up every day, asking, ‘Why did I not see the signs? Why did I not stop?’ The unfortunate truth is, he didn’t. That makes him guilty of a criminal offence.”
Brayford said he wanted to know why the accident happened.
“I wanted to know why he didn’t see,” Brayford said. “I’m disappointed to say I can’t tell people what happened, that he simply doesn’t know.”
Brayford said his client did not intentionally go through the stop sign.
“There are some times in rural Saskatchewan or Alberta where you can see forever. There will be a stop sign and people say, ‘You should stop, but I can see that road. I can see that way. I can see the road ahead and I can see the road behind. There are no police available’…This isn’t that situation.”
Brayford said that no one would have knowingly gone through a stop sign when they couldn’t see what was coming.
“You wouldn’t, unless you’re spinning the cylinder of a revolver.”
Sentencing arguments finished on Thursday, Jan. 31. Sidhu will receive his sentence on March 22.