With tears in his eyes and voice quivering Nicholas Shears-Decker acknowledged the weight of his actions Wednesday.
“I can imagine the great deal of pain that I caused everyone because I knows the pain that I’m going through,” said the 27-year-old man from Rocky Harbour during an appearance in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador courtroom.
Once an alcoholic, he said he has turned his life around and is committed to his son and wife — to support them as long as he can.
Shears-Decker’s life with his family will have to be put on hold for a while, however, as he’s facing a period of jail time for charges that stemmed from an accident that claimed the life of a friend.
Justice Brian Furey convicted Shears-Decker of refusing to provide a breath sample after his operation of a motor vehicle resulted in an accident that caused deat,h and refusing to provide a breath sample after his operation of a motor vehicle resulted in an accident caused bodily harm.
The accident that occurred on Aug. 13, 2016 killed 20-year-old David Dwayne White and injured another man and woman who were passengers in the car.
Shears-Decker was driving the car when it went off the road on Route 430, just south of St. Paul’s on the Northern Peninsula, at 11:12 p.m.
An accident reconstruction report determined the vehicle failed to negotiate a turn on the highway and was travelling at 133 kilometres per hour in a 90 km/h zone.
An agreed statement of facts presented to the court says the vehicle flipped several times before coming to a rest on the west side of the highway in a ditch.
Mr. White was the front seat passenger. He died quickly from blunt force trauma to his head. He was wearing a seatbelt at the time.
A bottle of liquor was found on the ground beside the car and police noted a smell of alcohol on Shears-Decker’s breath, that he was off balance and unsteady while walking and his eyes were bloodshot and watery.
Shears-Decker was advised at the scene that he was under investigation for impaired operation of a motor vehicle and while en route to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Rocky Harbour was told the investigation was now impaired operation causing death.
At the detachment Shears-Decker was put in contact with a lawyer from legal aid. Initially he indicated he would provide a breath sample, but after further communication with the lawyer refused.
He had originally been charged with three counts of impaired driving, one count of failure to provide a breath sample, one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and two counts of dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm.
He later entered guilty pleas to the two charges of which he was convicted.
In his submission on sentencing Crown attorney Adam Sparkes spoke of the seriousness of the charges and how impaired driving cases are common in this region and there are increasing numbers of charges for the offences that Shears-Decker was convicted of.
He also said that as the number of charges has increased so has the sentences that are attached to them.
Sparkes asked Furey to consider sentencing Shears-Decker to a total of three years in jail and imposing a three-year driving prohibition. If the sentence is of two years or under, he also asked for two-years probation.
Shears-Decker’s lawyer, Robby Ash, said tragedy doesn’t begin to describe this case nor does remorse describe what his client feels.
An evening out with friends ended violently. He said all parties in the vehicle had consumed alcohol and there is no way to determine if alcohol played a factor in the accident.
He said the offending conduct is what occurred after the offence, not what led up to the accident.
Shears-Decker’s young son was outside the courtroom being cared for by a family member while several others sat behind him. The four-month old boy’s middle name is David.
Ash said Shears-Decker thinks about Mr. White everyday and with his son named after him there is no chance that a day will go by when he doesn’t think about him.
Ash said the accident has been a life-altering experience for Shears-Decker, who hasn’t taken a drink since and suffers from PTSD.
He asked Furey to consider a sentence in the range of 1-2 years, and considered 18 months appropriate.
Furey will render his decision March 15.