Tougher sentences in case of taxi driver's death
Published Thursday, October 2, 2008 7:38PM EDT
Two young Toronto men who caused the death of a city taxi driver in 2006 have had their conditional sentences doubled to two years of house arrest.
The Ontario Court of Appeal also extended the driving bans for Alexander Ryazanov and Wang-Piao Dumani Ross to seven years from four years.
"When young people are granted the privilege of driving they take on a grave responsibility," wrote Justice Gloria Epstein for the three-judge panel.
"When that privilege is abused through irresponsible conduct - in this case conduct that took a man's life - the loss of the privilege must be felt, both by the perpetrators and by others who would engage in similar conduct."
Jim Bell of Diamond Taxi wasn't impressed. "Driving is a privilege, they were driving, and their privilege was revoked," the boss of Tabir Khan, the cabbie who died, told CTV Toronto. "But seven year's revokement for a man's life to me is not sufficient. And I wonder if those boys had gone out of control and gone up on a sidewalk and killed a young mother, would they have got the same sentence?"
The offenders had been driving Mercedes-Benz sedans down Mount Pleasant at speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour. The posted limit is 60 km/h. The drivers were also weaving in and out of traffic.
Ryazanov collided with Khan's taxi as the cab driver was making a left turn near an intersection. The collision crushed the taxi against a pole, killing the 46-year-old immigrant from Pakistan.
He had been mere days away from being granted Canadian citizenship.
On May 29, 2007, a judge gave the two a one-year house arrest term, plus a one-year curfew and two years of probation after they had pleaded guilty to one count each of dangerous driving causing death.
"The conditions imposed, particularly in the second half of the sentences, amount to merely being grounded without driving privileges," Epstein wrote.
"The respondents continue to go to school and work. Now that the first year is over, they have complete freedom during the day and can even go out after curfew with a parent's note."
Conditional sentences should be punitive, she wrote.
However, the court wouldn't accept the Crown's recommendation that three-year prison terms be imposed.
The court didn't feel the evidence supported the Crown's assertion that the two men were racing. Ryazanov and Dumani Ross have always maintained they were speeding and following each other, but not racing.
Besides the appeal court's ruling, Ryzanov and Dumani Ross also face a $2-million lawsuit from Khan's family.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Chris Eby