R v Lagrelle, 2019 ABQB 702

A non-carceral sentence is unavailable for an Indigenous woman who pled guilty to causing an accident that resulted in a death and bodily harm to others while driving intoxicated.

Native Law Centre CaseWatch Blog

The offender, Ms. Lagrelle, had a previous impaired driving offence but still made the decision to drive intoxicated and was travelling at a high speed when a collision occurred. The alcohol content was almost twice the legal limit, and she had occupants in the vehicle. An aggravating aspect was that the offender denied driving the vehicle and only admitted to police that she was indeed the driver two weeks after the accident. Because of these actions, Ms. Lagrelle’s moral blameworthiness is high for causing an accident that resulted in a person’s death as well as bodily harm to others.

One of the challenges facing this Court is that Ms. Lagrelle, and Idigenous woman who has suffered substantial abuse in her life, will be facing a carceral sentence. A non-carceral sentence, such as a conditional sentence order, is simply not available for the offence. Ms. Lagrelle, however, shows prospects for rehabilitation. Although the gravity of the offences for which she has been convicted are high, her moral culpability was lessened through the various Gladue factors stated in a Gladue report that assisted with determining the length of the sentence that is imposed (R v Abraham, 2000 ABCA 159).

The Court determined that the fit and proper sentences for Ms. Lagrelle’s offences for causing an accident resulting in death was three years and six months imprisonment and for causing an accident resulting in bodily harm was two years and six months imprisonment. The sentences are to be served concurrently. Further, it was recommended that the sentence be served in the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.

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