Kamloops top cop displeased with man's three-year sentence for killing TRU students | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops top cop displeased with man's three-year sentence for killing TRU students

Reid McKnight was handed a three-year sentence for killing three men in a Kamloops hit and run, but the top cop in Kamloops was not pleased with the sentence.

He expressed his frustrations at a city committee meeting on Dec. 9, where he addressed the sentence.

"I'm not pleased, and neither are the people who worked on it," Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky said. "And I'm certainly sure the families aren't."

On Nov. 3, 2019, McKnight, 33, was speeding on Battle Street in downtown Kamloops where he blew a stop sign and T-boned a car carrying four Thompson Rivers University students. The collision killed Feyisola Adebowale, Daniel Okocha and Kelvin Oluwatosin, while McKnight fled the collision on foot.

The sentence was delivered by Justice Kathleen Ker on Dec. 3, who determined a joint submission from Crown prosecutors and McKnight's defence was appropriate.

While giving her reasons for the decision, Ker acknowledged that members of the public may see the sentence as lenient, but she explained that there is a high bar for overriding a joint submission, while handing a more punitive sentence would not be beneficial to either the families of the victims or McKnight.

READ MORE: 3 years prison for driver who killed 3 international students in Kamloops

"We enter into these discussions based on principles of fairness, accuracy and public interest," B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin.

There is an incentive to reach a joint submission between both sides of the legal battle because it keeps the court system running timely and efficiently, this is especially so when the case involves trauma or death, like the McKnight case, he said.

The guilty plea and the joint submission also eliminates the need for a trial and opportunities to appeal the decision in the future, McLaughlin said.

While sentencing is determined by the courts, prosecutors often make law enforcement aware of their sentence recommendations, especially in more traumatic cases. A sentencing decision is one of the "most challenging" processes in the justice system, he said.

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"We are required by our policies to engage with victims and other stakeholders, like police," McLaughlin said. "Ultimately the decision has to be ours, and we're accountable, publicly, by the courts, the attorney general and the B.C. Law Society."

The investigation included multiple law enforcement units within and outside the Kamloops RCMP. This included the serious crime unit, general investigations, the forensic team, the municipal traffic unit and support from outside divisions, according to a Kamloops RCMP news release.

Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, outside of the detachment, also aided in the investigation.

"The investigation that followed was complex and brought us to today’s court decision. Although we know nothing can undo what’s been lost with the lives of these men, or repair the sorrow and heartache suffered as a result, we hope today’s outcome will bring some solace to the victims’ families, friends, and community," Lecky said in the release.

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But the court battles aren't over yet, as the families of the victims are suing McKnight for damages.

The families of Feyisola Adebowale and Daniel Okocha each launched civil claims against McKnight in November for expenses related to funerals and other damages.

McKnight could have received a life sentence for causing the death of each person. However, related case law presented by prosecutor Chris Balison showed a range of 18 months to six years.

Along with his prison sentence, McKnight, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, is banned from owning an unrestricted firearm for 10 years and he is banned from both prohibited and restricted firearms for life.

Upon his release, he is also banned from driving for three years.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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