Photo by Whitehorse Star
The Court of Appeal of Yukon has dismissed the appeal of a Yukon man who was challenging his sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The eight-page written decision on Paul Kloepfer’s appeal, which was heard in British Columbia, was released March 21.
Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein provided the written reasons. Justices Barbara Fisher and Bruce Butler agreed that the appeal should be dismissed.
Kloepfer was seeking to have his sentence reduced from five months to one month. He argued that this should be concurrent to two other convictions related to the same incident.
These included two counts of failing to remain at the scene of an accident. Kloepfer appealed those two convictions, which were overturned earlier this year in a separate appeal.
“He submits there is an error in principle impacting the sentence, as the judge wrongly factored in an aggravating factor,” Stromberg-Stein said in the decision.
He did not argue that the sentence was unfit.
Before getting to her reasons for dismissal, Stromberg-Stein went over the facts of the case.
She said Kloepfer intentionally sped up his truck at four pedestrians. He did so as the pedestrians walked along a rural road south of Whitehorse.
The identities of some of the pedestrians cannot be published.
Kloepfer hit two of the four people in the group. One was a senior and the other was a youth – who was injured as a result.
The trial judge concluded that Kloepfer left the area after the incident. He drove to his residence and called the RCMP to complain about the pedestrians causing mischief.
Kloepfer is known to have bad relations with the pedestrians. The sentencing judge felt Kloepfer did not take responsibility for his actions and had expressed hostility toward the victims.
His pre-sentence report showed that he does not have any insight about the effects of his behaviour.
It also showed he has “significant issues with conflict resolutions and cognitive distortions.”
The judge felt some sort of jail sentence to achieve denunciation and deterrence was appropriate.
The Crown in this case argued that during sentencing, the judge made an error in principle when deeming the failure to remain at the scene as aggravating.
“Despite the error, the Crown submits the five-month sentence imposed for dangerous driving causing bodily harm is a fit sentence that should be affirmed on appeal,” Stromberg-Stein said in the decision.
She said Kloepfer leaving the scene of the accident was one of several factors the trial judge considered aggravating. She noted the judge did not add consecutive sentences or impose a higher sentence for leaving the scene.
Overall, she felt the sentencing judge did not make a mistake in principle by making this consideration.
She explained that “distinct societal interests were under consideration” during sentencing.
The court rejected the concept that the offender was being punished multiple times for the same conduct.
This was because the court determined the different charges Kloepfer faced at the time again played into various societal interests.
She mentioned that although the two convictions for leaving the scene of an accident were overturned, this did not mean Kloepfer’s five-month sentence was too severe.
She explained that he would not have received a worse sentence than he would have under different circumstances.
She clarified this is because the sentencing judge determined an appropriate sentence for each offence. These were allowed to be served concurrently, before two were overturned.
Stromberg-Stein did not feel a need to alter the sentence.
“There is not basis for this court to interfere with the original sentence,” she said in the decision.
With that, the appeal was dismissed.
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