A man whose out-of-control driving resulted in a young woman living life in a wheelchair was handed a two-year jail term today.
Joshua Steele-Young was sentenced this morning in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
The 24-year-old had been convicted in July of dangerous driving causing bodily harm for the March 20, 2017, crash that left Morgan Pardy paralyzed and a quadriplegic.
The court heard during Steele-Young’s trial that Pardy had ended a five-month relationship with him days before the car crash, but had agreed to go for a drive with him to talk. The pair began to argue and when Steele-Young grew angry, Pardy undid her seatbelt and demanded he let her out of the car on Pitts Memorial Drive, in the snow.
He didn't stop the car, which was travelling 130 km/h in a 100 km/h zone with slippery conditions, and eventually lost control of the vehicle. Witnesses saw it spin off the highway before flipping a number of times, with Pardy thrown from the car high into the air.
Throughout the trial, Pardy sat in the courtroom in her wheelchair, often wiping tears from her eyes. While presenting her victim impact statement last month, she cried as she spoke about the devastating effect the crash has had on her life.
When he testified in the trial, Steele-Young admitted the two had been arguing and that he had been travelling 130km/h in a 100 km/h zone with slippery conditions. But said he hadn’t seen Pardy remove her seatbelt and hadn’t heard the warning beep over the car’s loud music. He said he lost control of the car when Pardy pushed his right elbow.
But Knickle didn’t believe him.
“The accident was not caused by Morgan Pardy taking off her seatbelt,” Knickle said while handing down the verdict in July. “Joshua Steele-Young’s dangerous driving was the cause. If he had not been driving dangerously, he may never have had an accident.”
In sentencing, Knickle decided on a sentence that was between what lawyers had recommended.
At the sentencing hearing last month, prosecutor Jennifer Lundrigan had argued for a jail term of between three and 3 1/2 years for Steele-Young, whose lawyer, Randy Piercey, argued for a jail sentence of between four and six months.
The sentence included two years’ probation, with conditions that he have no contact with Pardy or her family. Steele-Young is also banned form contacting her while he’s incarcerated.
Steele-Young was also given a five-year driving prohibition. Since he hasn’t driven since the incident 26 months ago, he has 32 months of the prohibition remaining.