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Driver who hit cyclist to serve 21 days

The Ottawa Citizen: Driver who hit cyclist to serve 21 days

Woman's licence had been suspended for impaired driving

BY ANDREW SEYMOUR, THE OTTAWA CITIZENMARCH 5, 2010 3:07 AM

A young woman who sideswiped a cyclist while driving suspended has been sentenced to three weeks in jail.

Telling 23-year-old Sarah Prout-Barrett that the flouting of court orders would have "serious consequences," Ontario Court Justice Richard Lajoie sentenced her to 21 days in jail, a penalty he considered to be the "lower limit" for the offence, given a cyclist was struck and injured.

"She had a sense of being invincible and thought she could do whatever she wanted, when she wanted, and that included driving a motor vehicle when a judge ordered her not to do so," Lajoie said, citing a pre-sentence report prepared by a probation officer.

Prout-Barrett pleaded guilty in December to driving while disqualified, admitting she struck and injured competitive cyclist Jim Borrens on Aug. 18, while merging onto the Airport Parkway at Hunt Club Road. At the time, her licence had been suspended following a February conviction for impaired driving.

The collision left Borrens, 43, with bruises and cuts, including some requiring stitches. His $6,000 bicycle was destroyed.

Lajoie said he was particularly troubled that the day of the crash did not appear to be the first time Prout-Barrett drove while suspended.

"The public must be protected and warned that such behaviour will have serious consequences," he said.

Prout-Barrett's lawyer, Joe Addelman, argued that his client was "immature," but was now remorseful for what she had done, had learned her lesson and should receive a period of probation.

Addelman said his client, who graduated from college in Montreal and had good family support, worked for the city of Ottawa, although her exact job was never specified. A city spokesman said there was no record of anyone with her name currently working for the city.

Assistant Crown attorney Stephen Donoghue argued a "short, sharp period of custody" was necessary to denounce Prout-Barrett's conduct and to deter others from doing the same thing.

"Cyclists needed to be protected on our streets," he said. "Not only is she driving, she's driving poorly."

Lajoie agreed with the Crown, saying there was no assurance Prout-Barrett would obey court orders since "not much weight" could be given to her promises.

Lajoie allowed Prout-Barrett to serve the jail time on weekends. She was also sentenced to 12 months probation and 40 hours of community service.