Judge orders 'generous' jail sentence for North Okanagan repeat drunk driver | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge orders 'generous' jail sentence for North Okanagan repeat drunk driver

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 28, 2019 - 7:00 PM

A drunk driver who was arrested after being involved in a hit and run has been sentenced to almost six months in jail in what the judge described as a "generous" sentence.

Justice Jeremy Guild sentenced Fred Lutsenko, 51, to five months and 28 days in prison today, Oct. 28, at the Vernon courthouse on one count of driving while impaired, and one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

In a joint submission, crown lawyer Margaret Cissell and defence lawyer Nicholas Jacob asked for a sentence of five months and 28 days to prevent Lutsenko from being deported back to Australia. The court heard how Lutsenko has lived in Canada since he was two years old but never became a Canadian citizen and that a sentence of six months or more would mean Lutsenko would be deported.

"Deportation is a collateral consequence that I have to take into consideration," Justice Guild said.

"I think the crown's position is pretty generous," Justice Guild told the court. "Given your history and the level of intoxication, that's still in my view, a break."

Justice Guild said he was bound to go along with the joint submission and he did not want to "throw the administration of justice into disrepute."

The court heard how Lutsenko had crashed his car into another vehicle near the intersection of 11 Avenue and Middleton Way and drove away Sept. 28, 2018. The driver's husband then followed Lutsenko in his vehicle and called the RCMP. At some point during the incident, Lutsenko had also reversed his vehicle into the husband's Jeep.

The RCMP arrived at the scene and arrested Lutsenko, finding open liquor bottles in his vehicle and his breath smelling of alcohol. The court heard how he was four times over the legal limit to be driving.

"To lose a bumper is a pretty significant hit," Justice Guild said. "You either didn't know... or didn't care."

In their joint submission, the lawyers also asked for three years' probation including six months of house arrest after Lutsenko's jail time, along with a 10-year driving ban.

The court heard Lutsenko had a chronic history of drunk driving and had been charged six times for drunk driving offences. He'd previously been jailed for driving while intoxicated for an incident in 2010 and banned from driving for six years.

"Your lawyer... says you understand the risks... that maybe when you're sober, but it's pretty clear when you drink you forget about those risks because your criminal record is all about drinking and driving," Justice Guild said. "Relapse is part of addiction, but driving isn't an addiction."

The court heard Lutsenko was an engineer and had a successful career. He'd started drinking following a difficult divorce and had two grown-up children, one of whom was in school and he supported financially.

Jacob told the court Lutsenko wanted treatment and would be getting alcohol counselling when in custody.

Justice Guild sentenced Lutsenko to five months and 28-days in prison, followed by six months of house arrest and banned him from driving for 10 years. Lutsenko was also barred from entering a bar or liquor store and being in a vehicle without the registered owner being present along with several other conditions.

Lutsenko, who had been sitting in the courtroom alone, was handcuffed and taken into custody to begin serving his prison sentence.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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