Ontario driver who killed woman and three daughters sentenced to 17 years in prison
A driver who struck and killed a woman and her three young daughters nearly two years ago "gambled with other people's lives" when he took the wheel after consuming cannabis, an Ontario judge said Monday in sentencing him to 17 years behind bars.
Brady Robertson's "cavalier attitude" towards driving laws called for a significant sentence, Ontario Court Justice Sandra Caponecchia told a Brampton, Ont., court.
Robertson had accumulated 15 driving infractions in the 2 1/2 years before the June 18, 2020, crash in Brampton that killed Karolina Ciasullo and her daughters Klara, Lilianna and Mila, who were between the ages of six and one.
Just two days earlier, on June 16, Robertson had failed to stop at an intersection and crashed into a barrier, the judge said. As a result of the impact, he was "jolted out of his slumber," and sped away to evade police, she said. The fact that no one was hurt in that incident is "pure happenstance," the judge said.
Robertson was not deterred by any previous penalties for his driving, and the June 16 crash did not serve as a "wake-up call," as it should have, Caponecchia said. Instead, on June 18, he got behind the wheel again, having consumed cannabis earlier that morning, she said.
On both occasions, Robertson's licence was suspended, and he was driving without insurance, she said.
"I have avoided calling both crashes an accident. That is because both were anything but an accident; both crashes were crimes, not accidents," she said.
"Both crimes were 100 per cent avoidable, had Mr. Robertson had any regard for the lives and safety of others."
- Download our app to get local alerts to your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
Robertson, 21, will receive nearly three years in credit for time already served awaiting trial, bringing the total down to 14 years and two months. His sentence relates to both crashes and includes a driving ban spanning 20 years beyond his release.
Gasps could be heard amid sobs in the packed courtroom as Caponecchia delivered her sentence.
Outside, Ciasullo's relatives denounced the sentence as inadequate in light of Robertson's actions and the permanent, devastating impact on their lives.
"As much as Canada is a great country, I am beyond disgusted with the justice system that someone who takes away four lives gets so little time," said Anna Martin, Ciasullo's sister.
"Our whole family is devastated ... No one is the same anymore."
Connie Ciasullo, Karolina Ciasullo's sister-in-law, said that after credit for time served, Robertson will spend roughly 3 1/2 years behind bars for each life he took. Her brother, Michael Ciasullo, will never recover from the deaths of his wife and daughters, she said.
Robertson was playing "Russian roulette" when he got behind the wheel that day, she said. "It happened to be our family that suffered, but it could have been any other family," she added.
Prosecutors sought a 23-year prison sentence and a lifetime driving ban for Robertson. The defence argued Robertson should be sentenced to seven years and face a 10-year driving ban.
Robertson pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous driving causing death in connection with the fatal crash.
But he pleaded not guilty to four counts of operation while impaired by drugs causing death, and his lawyers challenged the constitutionality of Canada's law setting out a legal limit for THC blood concentration when driving.
Caponecchia found Robertson had a blood THC concentration of 40 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood about 45 minutes after the crash, which is eight times the legal limit.
The constitutional challenge was rejected last month, and as a result, Robertson was found guilty on the impaired driving charges. He was also found guilty of dangerous driving in the June 16, 2020, crash.
Karolina Ciasullo, 37, is pictured with her daughters – Klara, 6, Lilianna, 4, and Mila, 1. The four died on June 18, 2020 after the vehicle they were travelling in was struck by another vehicle in Brampton. (Source / Facebook)
In sentencing submissions last month, both the Crown and the defence compared and contrasted Robertson's case with that of Marco Muzzo, a drunk driver who killed three children and their grandfather in a 2015 collision in Vaughan, Ont.
Muzzo pleaded guilty in 2016 to four counts of impaired driving causing death and two of impaired driving causing bodily harm in the crash that killed nine-year-old Daniel Neville-Lake, his five-year-old brother Harrison, their two-year-old sister Milly and the children's 65-year-old grandfather, Gary Neville.
Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years behind bars and a 12-year driving ban, and was released on parole last year.
"Other than the tragic consequences in both cases, the offence and the offenders are notably different," Caponecchia said Monday.
Robertson was speeding at a much greater degree than Muzzo, going nearly twice the posted limit for that zone, she said. Unlike Robertson, Muzzo had not caused a crash two days earlier, nor is there evidence he tried to evade police, she said.
Muzzo was also assessed as posing a low risk of reoffending, he was licensed to drive and there is no indication he failed to comply with the licensing and registration requirements for his vehicle, she said. Muzzo had 12 driving violations in as many years, fewer than Robertson accumulated in 2 1/2 years, the judge said.
The maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death was increased to a life sentence in 2000, the judge said. More recently, in 2018, federal legislation increased the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death to life in prison, and created new offences for cannabis-impaired driving, which can also carry a sentence of life imprisonment in cases where someone is killed, she said.
Those changes suggest Parliament wanted those offences to be punished more harshly, Caponecchia said.
Jennifer Neville-Lake, who lost her father and children in the crash caused by Muzzo, said Robertson's sentence is "a step in the right direction."
Neville-Lake knew Karolina Ciasullo and both families have sought comfort with each other as they grieve, she said Monday outside the courthouse.
In her ruling, Caponecchia acknowledged Robertson has lived a difficult life, marred by poverty, abandonment, drug use and abuse. He began using marijuana at age 11, and cocaine and methamphetamines by 13, she said.
Robertson was shuffled between Ontario and Alberta in the care of various relatives, and dropped out of school at 16, she said. He also recently learned of his Metis background, she said.
"Mr. Robertson's background is relevant, even in the face of such a monumental tragedy. His youth, lack of record, remorse and harsh pretrial detention are all mitigating factors," she said.
At a sentencing hearing last month, Robertson apologized for his actions, saying he was "deeply tormented" by what he did. Robertson said he will feel guilty for the rest of his life and wants to take responsibility for his actions.
"I want to pay for what I did, I want to serve my time," he said. "This family deserves justice."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The federal government announced Wednesday all existing border restrictions to enter Canada will remain in place until at least Sept. 30.
Fallen R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday for using his fame to subject young fans - some just children - to systematic sexual abuse.
Police in Saanich, B.C., say they continue to investigate the possibility that a "third suspect" was involved in a fatal shooting at a bank that left two suspects dead and six officers injured Tuesday.
A woman who was trapped inside a bank during a robbery and fatal shootout with police near Victoria on Tuesday says there is one question still plaguing her a day later: Why didn't the gunmen just leave with the money?
Five months ago, the first 'Freedom Convoy' trucks rolled into Ottawa. After the federal government took the unprecedented step of invoking the Emergencies Act to end the protests, a series of inquiries and probes have been initiated. With the nation's capital bracing for more protests over the Canada Day weekend, CTVNews.ca takes a look at where the main commissions and studies stand.
A mother of three children is speaking out after spending a night on the floor of Toronto Pearson Airport with her young kids in a nightmare weekend of travel.
A toddler accidentally left in a vehicle for hours died Tuesday and police said his father was found dead in an apparent suicide at their Virginia home, police said.
Canada has signed an agreement to upgrade the NATO battlegroup it leads in Latvia to a brigade, a move that signals a commitment to the military alliance even as the federal Liberals resist calls to boost defence spending to two per cent of GDP.
A decorated OPP officer became part of the problem of the GTA’s troubled tow truck industry when he played favourites and sent more than half a million dollars in tows to a tow truck company also featured in a reality TV show, according to a Superior Court justice.
A social media campaign to help find a compatible stem cell donor for a four-year-old girl in Montreal is putting a spotlight on the lack of diversity in donor lists.
Ahead of the hustle and bustle of festival season in Montreal, Quebec health officials are asking people to stay vigilant amid rising COVID-19 numbers.
Recent data shows more than half of all flights in and out of some of Canada's major airports are being cancelled or delayed, as frustrations for travellers mount due in part to increased summer travel and not enough airport staff.
A panel van went up in flames following a two-vehicle crash in Elgin County on Wednesday, police say the occupants were able to safely escape.
It was the last day of school for most elementary school students in the region and a time for students and teachers to look forward to summer.
For the second time in two days, a Southwestern Ontario hospital has announced a temporary Emergency Room closure.
A serious collision in Kitchener Tuesday has prompted calls for traffic controls to be installed at the off-ramps of Highway 7/8 onto Ira Needles Boulevard.
In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision south of the border, demonstrators in Kitchener showed up in support of abortion rights.
A 27-year-old man has died after a single-vehicle crash near Hensall on Tuesday evening, according to police.
The Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Sudbury’s Summer Concert Series and Up Here Festival are promising an action-packed summer in the city.
The trial of a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of an Elliot Lake man got underway this week in a Sault Ste. Marie courtroom.
A detour is now available following a motor vehicle collision that closed Hwy. 17 in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario Provincial Police said Wednesday.
Anne-Marie Ready, 50, and Jasmine Ready, 15, died from stab wounds following an incident at a home on Anoka Street Monday night, police said Wednesday afternoon.
Longtime Ottawa entrepreneur, broadcaster and author Mark Sutcliffe is running to become the next mayor of Ottawa.
"We choose not to celebrate the ongoing colonization, oppression and genocide of Indigenous peoples of this land," Moo Shu Ice Cream said in a social media post.
A retired Windsor firefighter is joining Windsor police in warning residents about a gift card scam after falling victim to one this past weekend.
A pandemic-inspired trend is encouraging people to pack their bags and jet off to the places they have missed over the past few years — but the owner of WindsorEats says it has him concerned about its negative impact on Windsor-Essex tourism.
The region is in for more hot and humid weather as a two-day heat wave is expected to take hold Thursday.
The emergence of the new BA.5 COVID-19 variant has seen case counts increase in each of the last two weeks in Simcoe County, with 44 new this week by Monday alone.
Businesses in The Blue Mountains are banking on a busy Canada Day long weekend and the first restriction-free summer season since 2019.
The City of Orillia is investing in attracting health care providers as looming retirements could mean thousands are left without a family doctor.
An RCMP officer who was among 22 people killed in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting was remembered Wednesday during a regimental service in Halifax for her "fierce" character and brave actions.
A woman has been charged with impaired driving after she allegedly crashed a vehicle into a building in Sydney, N.S., and left the scene.
Eskasoni First Nation on Cape Breton Island is about to get its first licensed liquor store, however, opinions in the community are split about whether it's a wise move.
An expert at the University of Calgary says a float in a small Alberta town's annual parade made a mockery of some of the symbols the Sikh religion hold sacred.
The woman who died during a practice at the Ponoka Stampede on Sunday has been identified by friends as Alicia McKendrick.
A severe thunderstorm only lasted about 10 minutes, but Nathan Canning says that was enough time to blow the entire roof off his Quonset barn and cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage to his Langdon property.
A four-year-old road project that cost the province a quarter billion dollars is already in need of repairs.
Canadian travellers are having to employ the 'hurry up and wait' practice at airports across the country lately according to new data. According to the Winnipeg Airport Authority (WAA), this impact isn't being felt to the same extent as other airports in the country.
Parts of western Manitoba are under a tornado watch or warning Wednesday evening.
Authorities have announced charges against a B.C. RCMP officer who allegedly used his position to pursue "intimate relationships with women," both on and off duty.
It's not unusual for prospective renters searching out affordable options in Vancouver to come across listings where someone in search of a roommate has crammed a single bed into a windowless, downtown den. But are these arrangements legal?
What was once a village is now a fire-scarred wasteland that is uninhabitable. It's been a year since a devastating fire tore through Lytton, B.C., and even now, most of the community is under evacuation order.
Damien Christopher Starrett was found guilty of killing his one-year-old son Ares Starrett and assaulting another child in a Fort Saskatchewan home on Nov. 23, 2019.
Lindsay Cholod ventured out onto the North Saskatchewan River last weekend for her first paddle of the season but it was almost her last.
The search for the 13-year-old girl who disappeared in Edmonton last Friday continued on Wednesday.