Galeeb Abau-Jabeen stood up in a courtroom with about two dozen friends and family watching on and said he was sorry to his best friend’s family and the family of a girl he critically injured.
Tuesday’s hearing was the final stage of a sentencing hearing for the 26-year-old auto mechanic after he was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm by a jury in April.
The family of the 25-year old victim Mohammad Mohammad, who was the passenger Abau-Jabeen’s Honda Civic killed on the night of Nov. 28, 2016, was not in court. But his younger brother Hassan Mohammad and little sister Aliya submitted victim impact statements explaining how their brother’s death has left their family broken.
“My mother was killed by a car bomb when I was 13. After that, my father moved our family to Canada when I was 15. However he also passed away due to Cancer when I was 18,” wrote Hassan.
“Mohammad was the person everyone relied on and would turn to him where there were problems.”
Aliya wrote her brother was like a second father to her.
“He was like my dad after my dad died. He provided a lot of advice and guidance in my life. I feel sad thinking why this has happened to us,” she said.
Crown prosecutor Sean Doyle told Madame Justice Wailan Low that the tragedy was entirely foreseeable and preventable, calling it “gratuitous violence.”
Abau-Jabeen was impaired by alcohol, driving at high speeds (going 85 km/h in a 40 km/h zone) and playing bumper cars by weaving in and out of traffic. Doyle said passengers, including Mohammad, warned Abau-Jabeen to slow down and witnesses reported seeing it “whizzing by” and whipping by.”
Abau-Jabeen also had a novice licence, meaning he was not allowed to drink any alcohol while driving. The Crown is asking for a five-to-six-year prison sentence, a ten-year driving ban and a DNA order.
Defence lawyer Chris Murphy suggested to Low that his client lost his best friend in the collision and it has had a devastating effect on Abau-Jabeen’s life. While Murphy said that Abau-Jabeen admitted a number of factors that were extremely detrimental to the case, like the fact passengers told him to slow down, Murphy denied his client was impaired.
“What we have is a tragic circumstance where Mr. Abau-Jabeen consumed some alcohol, not to impairment, saw the yellow light, weaved in and out of traffic and tried to make the light. He hit the light standard with tragic consequences,” he said.
Murphy suggested that a more appropriate sentence would be two years less a day in jail, three years probation and 240 hours of community service. He argued new federal legislation means judges can not order a driving ban in certain offences including criminal negligence causing death.
Murphy also said Abau-Jabeen has had a difficult life. Starting work as a mechanic when he was seven or eight years old before coming to Canada with his family from Lebanon as a refugee and dropping out of high school, Murphy said he’s been working ever since.
Low will deliver her sentence in November.
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