The insults Christopher Groves yelled at members of the street community weighed into his one-year prison sentence, delivered by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher Tuesday.
Groves, who was convicted of manslaughter for pushing Ariana Simpson under a bus, will also serve two years probation and 250 hours of community service.
Justice Fisher explained her decision on the basis of promoting a sense of responsibility in Groves for his crime.
“I am not sure (Groves) understands how serious his actions were,” she said.
Fisher noted the letter Groves wrote, in which he said he accepted but didn’t agree with his verdict, and that he does not feel he deserves to continue to suffer.
Fisher also referenced his belligerence on the night of Feb. 12, 2009 as a possible indication of his attitude to the drug addicted and homeless.
These people reacted negatively to his language and came to him on the corner of Pandora Avenue and Johnson Street, Fisher said, summarizing the facts of the case. When Simpson threw a straw at Groves, he was caught off guard and pushed the 20-year-old woman with both hands.
The passing bus that crushed her was unforeseen by Groves, but objectively foreseeable, given that he pushed her into a lane of traffic, Fisher concluded. She called the act “very, very careless” and said her sentence aims to deter actions so careless.
Earlier in the day, Groves’ lawyer Bob Claus outlined his defence.
He requested a suspended sentence, alongside 100 to 150 hours of community service.
Groves’ push was unlike similar manslaughter cases where the victim dies from a punch, intended to injure but not kill, he argued.
“He had no intent to injure anyone,” Claus said. “Incarceration in this case does not benefit anybody.”
Claus asked the judge to consider his good character, and the 30 letters of support from employers, teachers and friends. He asked that a jail term, if deemed appropriate, be served intermittently on weekends, permitting the 23 year old to continue working. He also cited the risks associated with a jail term.
After the hearing, Simpson’s mother Cindy also acknowledged a risk of retribution by some of her daughter’s friends in jail.
“I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen,” she said, adding Ariana wouldn’t have wanted it.
“If anything (should be) learned from this, it’s to be more peaceful,” she said.
Cindy said she’s really pleased with the sentence.
“Christopher Groves really needs to understand how important it is not to judge people,” she said. “Not every drug addict is living on the street.”
She said Groves’ decision not to address the court when given the opportunity really pains her.
“It would have meant a lot,” she said.