Old and frail, Melle Pool was spared jail when he was sentenced on Thursday morning for dangerous driving causing the death of Terry Mitchell, 52, in Fort Langley three years ago.
The 88-year-old retired Abbotsford dairy farmer was given a suspended sentence by Madame Justice Catherine Bruce in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
Justice Bruce banned Pool from driving for 10 years, placed him on probation for two years, imposed a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for one year, and ordered him to carry out 15 hours of community work.
This will consist of talking to seniors groups about driving.
On Feb. 25, 2008, Mitchell was working as a flagman for Valley Traffic Services which had been contracted by Langley Township for traffic control on River Road where it joins Mavis Street in Fort Langley.
The workmen were about to start routine ditch clearing after their lunch break when Pool, driving a pickup truck, slammed into Mitchell. As they waited for emergency personnel to arrive, the five crewmen tried desperately to save Mitchell’s life. Terry Veer, the Township’s manager of roads and drainage, said at the time that the men were so traumatized that they could not work for at least another day.
Mitchell, who lived in Pitt Meadows, had worked on Township projects for three years, and had become a familiar face.
“He was as good as one of the guys,” Veer said, adding that Mitchell “approached challenges with enthusiasm and courage.”
He left behind Allison, his wife of 26 years.
She sobbed as the judge began to deliver her sentence.
Pool, who had pleaded guilty, was driving despite the fact that his licence had expired and after doctors declared him unfit to drive because of his poor eyesight.
The courtroom was filled with members of both the Mitchell and Pool families when Justice Bruce handed down her sentence which was less than the Crown had sought. She said she saw no public interest in a jail sentence.
After the sentencing, prosecutor Don Wilson commented that the sentence “clearly does not reflect the position of the Crown.”
Wilson had sought a prison term of six to 18 months.
“The Crown will obviously review the decision to ensure that it is appropriate,” Wilson said.
“It doesn’t reflect what the Crown was seeking, but that does not automatically lead to an appeal.”
He said that Mitchell’s widow, Allison, “has shown a great dignity” throughout what he called “a very tragic case.”