Elise Stolte (Edmonton Journal) – A truck driver handed a conditional sentence Thursday for killing RCMP Const. Jose Agostinho stood trial 10 years earlier for hitting another officer on the same stretch of road a decade ago, The Journal has learned.
The wives of both officers sat in the gallery as the sentence was read Thursday in a Wetaskiwin court. Cheryl Agostinho cried and fled the court.
Sandy Allsopp said she finally found closure.
“For me, it’s been since 1994,” she said. “I’m upset. But you know, I’m relieved because I never have to hear Mr. Smith’s name again.”
Marvin George Smith was driving the same five-ton truck on Dec. 6, 1994, when he hit Ponoka RCMP Const. Gordon Allsopp standing by the driver’s side window of a car he had pulled over.
In that incident, Smith’s side mirror clipped Allsopp, throwing him over the hood of the car into the ditch, said Ponoka-based collision reconstructionist Const. Les Squires, who investigated both incidents.
“There was deep muscle bruising,” he said of Allsopp. “He never returned to work after that.”
The accidents happened within 30 kilometres of each other on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway, both late in the morning on clear days.
Allsopp died last year from Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.
Smith, 61, was given a two-year conditional sentence Thursday for dangerous driving causing Agostinho’s death and injuries to his partner, Const. Robert Haney.
Justice Eric Macklin never heard of Smith’s previous accident because his conviction for careless driving and 10-day jail sentence was overturned on appeal and a new trial ordered. He was found not guilty.
Macklin found Smith guilty on the new charges last November and said he was “sleep driving.”
Smith was so tired, he momentarily blanked out and didn’t see Agostinho’s red and blue lights flashing on the side of the highway, the judge said. Smith’s truck ended up on top of Agostinho’s vehicle, the force of the collision pushing both across four lanes of traffic.
“In your state, you were a driving time bomb,” Macklin said Thursday at the sentencing, noting Smith had fallen asleep at the wheel before and “ought to have known” he was in no state to drive.
Macklin allowed Smith to serve his sentence as house arrest because he did not consider him a threat to the community and accepted Smith’s remorse as genuine.
He has a curfew and must perform 150 hours of community service, but will be allowed to work. He will not be allowed to drive for five years.
Smith was in a wheelchair in court because of injuries he suffered in a fall from a truck at his job in shipping and receiving.
Crown prosecutor Terry Hofmann had asked for up to three years in jail.
Outside the courthouse, Agostinho’s family said the conditional sentence wasn’t enough.
“As far as we’re concerned, house arrest is not a punishment,” said the constable’s daughter, Stephanie Agostinho. “We are very disappointed.”
“We have a legal system in Canada, but no justice system, and that needs to change,” added Cheryl, her face red with crying.
Allsopp said she and Cheryl will keep in touch.
“You have to move on, you have to get over it and keep living,” she said.
When the Allsopps first heard of the second accident and that the same driver was involved, Gordon “re-lived the accident all over again,” she said.
“Gord was very bitter, very angry.”
Allsopp was at Smith’s sentencing to support Cheryl Agostinho.
“I just thought he lives such a charmed life, he’s going to get off on this,” Allsopp said. “Well, in the end, he didn’t, but he got a much nicer sentence than I would have given.”