A judge has sentenced a Caledon driver who tested at eight times the legal limit for THC to 17 years for “gambling with other people’s lives” and causing a 2020 crash that killed a schoolteacher and her three young daughters.
The deaths of Caledon mom Karolina Ciasullo, 37, and her three daughters, six-year-old Klara, three-year-old Lilianna and one-year-old Mila were “100 per cent” avoidable, Ontario court Judge Sandra Caponecchia said, sentencing Brady Robertson, 21, in a Brampton courthouse on Monday.
“The results of Mr. Robertson’s actions were catastrophic. The impact of the victims’ deaths will last a lifetime,” Caponecchia said Monday, calling the June 18, 2020, Brampton crash a tragedy that has left a grieving father and husband “physically and emotionally unwell,” and has had a “profound, ” impact on first-responders, extended family and the wider community.
Accounting for nearly three years’ credit for time served, Robertson is left with a prison term of 14 years and two months.
Even though Robertson’s sentence is “precedent-setting,” it is “still a slap in the face” to the victims’ family, said Connie Ciasullo, Karolina’s sister-in-law, speaking to reporters outside the courthouse.
She noted that Robertson will serve the equivalent of three-and-a-half years per life taken in the crash. She added: “I wouldn’t have celebrated even if he got a life sentence.”
“Our whole family is devastated,” said Anna Martin, Karolina’s sister. “We will never recover from this.”
Robertson was also handed a 20-year driving ban, which will begin after his release from custody.
Toronto lawyer Daniel Brown, vice-president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, described the sentence as “one of the harshest jail sentences anywhere in Canada for this type of crime.”
The outcome “sends a strong message to the community that harm caused by reckless driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will result in a significant jail sentence,” said Brown, who was not involved in the case.
Grieving relatives of Karolina Ciasullo and her three young daughters say the 17-year sentence handed down to the driver who struck and killed them is insufficient. Brady Robertson had accumulated 15 driving infractions in the 2 1/2 years before the crash that killed Ciasullo and his daughters. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol consumption before driving would “save lives and help prevent calamities like this from happening again,” he added.
Previous attempts to hold Robertson accountable for speeding, stunt driving and careless driving had no effect on him, Caponecchia said.
Among the factors she cited in her ruling were the impact on the family, the fact Robertson had amassed 15 driving convictions prior to the crash, and his reckless, “cavalier” attitude toward the rules of the road and the safety of others.
Robertson did not have a valid license and was involved in another dangerous driving incident two days before he slammed into Ciasullo’s SUV while traveling at twice the speed limit attempting to evade police near Torbram Road and Countryside Drive in Brampton.
“Prior driving suspensions did not keep him off the road,” Caponecchia said. “He repeatedly and frequently drove irresponsible.”
The legal limit for cannabis while driving is five nanograms of the active ingredient THC per milliliter of blood; Robertson tested at 40. His blood also contained and unknown quantity of the sedative flubromazolam.
At his trial, Robertson pleaded guilty to four counts of dangerous driving causing death but not guilty to impaired driving charges, arguing the THC limit captures “morally innocent” people who use cannabis for medical reasons or use responsibly but still have residual drug in their blood .
Caponecchia rejected that challenge last month, finding the limit complies with Robertson’s Charter rights.
Caponecchia has also found Robertson guilty of dangerous driving over another incident two days before he killed the Ciasullos, finding he was driving the same blue Infiniti in Caledon on June 16, 2020, when he mounted the curb and crash into a planter box and two garbage bins.
“The collision … did not serve as a wake-up call to Mr. Robertson,” the judge said Monday.
In her ruling, Caponecchia compared Robertson to the high-profile case of drunk driver Marco Muzzo, who in 2015 received a 10-year sentence in a crash that also killed an adult and three children.
The judge explained: Unlike Robertson, Muzzo was a productive member of the community; he was an insured and licensed driver; an expert had assessed him as having a low risk to reoffend; and Robertson was driving at higher rates of speed.
Muzzo had also amassed 12 driving infractions over 12 years, while Robertson exceeded that amount in just two — at just 20-years-old, she said.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Quilty had called for a 23-year sentence, noting that the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death has been raised from 14 years to life in prison.
“By increasing the maximum sentences, Parliament has signaled that it wanted driving offenses to be punished more harshly,” he said.
Caponecchia called that request “unpreceded.” Such a sentence does not balance with Robertson’s remorse, his disadvantaged background, and the fact he is a youthful offender with no adult criminal record, the judge said.
Robertson’s defense meanwhile argued a sentence of seven years. The judge rejected that as insufficient.
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