Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

THE AFTERMATH – The upended vehicle driven by Mark McClusky collided with the car driven by Naomi Blindheim on Hamilton Boulevard in January 2017.

Man faces cell time after 2017 collision

A Yukon judge has sentenced a Whitehorse man to 5 1/2 months in jail for two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and two counts of blood concentration equal or over the legal limit causing bodily harm.

By Gord Fortin on April 18, 2019

A Yukon judge has sentenced a Whitehorse man to 5 1/2 months in jail for two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm and two counts of blood concentration equal or over the legal limit causing bodily harm.

Judge Michael Cozens imposed his sentence on Mark McClusky on Wednesday.

McClusky, 48, faced the charges after a collision on Jan. 20, 2017 on Hamilton Boulevard severely injuring a Whitehorse woman. She is one of several people who were hurt.

They included Kimberly Johnnie, who was a passenger in McClusky’s vehicle, and Naomi Blindheim, who was driving the other vehicle.

Cozens pointed out that Blindheim’s injuries negatively impacted her.

Her children had trouble dealing with her while she was in her injured state, the judge noted.

Blindheim’s daughter said the sight of her mother in the hospital has scarred her for life.

The accident has financially impacted the family as well. Blindheim required treatment outside the Yukon.

Cozens highlighted McClusky’s personal circumstances.

He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and his family moved several times. These included a move to Alberta, back to Northern Ireland and then to British Columbia.

McClusky witnessed abuse and alcoholism between his parents when they lived in Alberta.

Back in Northern Ireland, he had good relations with his extended family, but that changed when he moved to B.C.

He struggled with alcohol. He went to rehabilitation at age 27 and was sober between the ages of 30 and 36. After that, he started dealing drugs.

In 2010, he moved to the Yukon, where he continued to struggle with alcoholism until the accident. He has been sober since then.

Cozens also went over some of McClusky’s issues.

The offender has some learning issues. He struggles with depression, mood disorders, anger management, chronic fatigue, anxiety and self-reception. He takes counselling and medication to deal with his conditions.

McClusky has a memory and attention problem, the judge said, but could succeed in post-secondary studies. He has friends and support arround him.

“He’s continued to be motivated to change,” Cozens said.

McClusky has a previous impaired driving related offence dating back to 1992. He has also served previous time in jail.

Cozens explained that the courts focus on the circumstances of an offender because that is the person being sentenced. That said, the victim’s circumstances and impacts endured need to be reflected in the sentence as well.

He said impaired driving is an offence that has massive negative impacts on society – yet people still do it.

He said McClusky’s sentence must denounce and deter this behaviour.

He added that other principles to consider are separation from society and rehabilitation.

Based on case law, Cozens determined that the sentence should be anywhere from four to 10 months.

He considered it aggravating that McClusky’s two blood alcohol readings were 186 and 225 respectively, that he had passengers in his car, and the injuries the victims suffered.

The judge added that the accident happened during a time of day where McClusky should have expected people to be on the road.

As for mitigating factors, Cozens pointed out McClusky is remorseful, received help on his own accord and maintained sobriety.

“I consider his remorse genuine,” Cozens said.

The judge stated that nothing stood out in McClusky’s driving pattern.

He clarified that McClusky took this case to trial, not because he did not feel responsible for the accident, but because he wanted the Crown to prove his intoxication was a factor. Cozens pointed out that McClusky never denied being drunk that day.

He felt, based on McClusky taking the initiative to get help and apologizing to Blindheim, that the offender has already been deterred.

Cozens concluded that probation could help with rehabilitation and provide further protection to the public.

With that, he felt the 5 1/2-month custodial sentence followed by 12 months’ probation are appropriate.

McClusky is to have no contact with Blindheim or her family members during that time.

As well, he is to abstain from alcohol and drugs not prescribed by a doctor.

He will also be subject to a three-year driving ban.

Comments (3)

Up 1 Down 0

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater on Apr 25, 2019 at 12:24 am

Good one Peter Cambridge - What about McClusky?

Up 1 Down 18

Peter Cambridge on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:18 pm

He is actually a very nice guy who has made a few mistakes.

Up 19 Down 3

BRIAN on Apr 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

That's not nearly enough time for what he did and the hurt he caused to other people. It's like walking around drunk with a loaded gun AND shooting someone! He knew what he was doing before he got into that car. He says he's trying to get help and get better??

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