Somebody respectable does not leave someone on the road to die

The family of a motorcyclist who was killed in a hit and run in April, jeered and swore at the convicted driver as he was led handcuffed from the packed courtroom Tuesday morning.

The family of the victim, Claude Dorion, had filed out early to see Gordon William Davis be escorted away by a police officer. “Bye, bye – enjoy your stay!” catcalled Peter Dorion, the brother of the victim.

Davis, 58, was sentenced to a year in jail for fleeing the scene of the accident on April 16th. Davis’ vehicle had struck Claude Dorion’s motorcycle at approximately 5.25 a.m. on Woodroffe Avenue at Richmond Road. Dorion was initially still conscious and talking at the scene, but died four hours later at the hospital.

Davis turned himself in later that same evening, claiming he had panicked. He pled guilty to fleeing the scene and making an unsafe turn. He also pled guilty to having a license that had expired in early 2008 and driving an uninsured vehicle.

The police report stated that there had been no sight obstructions, and that there had been no adverse road conditions.

Several members of the Dorion family wept in court as Ontario Court Justice Ann Alder described Claude Dorion as “a pillar of the family” despite being one of the youngest.

Alder detailed certain mitigating factors that she had taken into account when considering Davis’ sentence, such as his guilty plea, evident remorse, family support and no bail breaches. However, she argued that the aggravating factors far outweighed these. Alder stressed that it was not so much that Claude Dorion had been killed, but that Davis had abandoned the scene. Such an act carried with it “a high level of blameworthiness.”

“Driving is a privilege, and with it comes responsibility and duties,” Justice Alder pronounced. Davis had had the responsibility to stop, something which was “not an onerous duty.” If Davis “chose to ignore it, he must face the severe consequences.”

Justice Alder dismissed the nine-month conditional sentence requested by Davis’ lawyer, Peter Beach. She argued that legally speaking, a conditional sentence was not even an option.

Taking into account the fact that Davis had left Dorion lying in the middle of the road vulnerable to oncoming traffic, as well as having an albeit dated prior driving record, Justice Alder sentenced an impassive Davis to 12 months in prison and a three year driving prohibition. The 12-month sentence was still less than the maximum 15 months that the Crown prosecutor, Robert Wadden, had called for. However, the verdict was met with applause from the Dorion family.

As Claude’s sister, Rose Dorion, left the courtroom she exclaimed with regard to Davis’ character references, “I don’t know how you can say he’s respectable. Somebody respectable does not leave someone on the road to die.” Visibly upset, she was unable to comment further afterwards, sat on a bench drawing deeply on her inhaler.

Peter Dorion, Claude’s brother, afterwards called the verdict “a joke”.

“I’d rather have my brother here with us,” he said crying. “Let him [Davis] suffer, like we’ve suffered as a family.”