TRURO - An Economy man who "callously" struck down a woman with a vehicle and essentially left her to die on the road has been sentenced to 43 months in prison.
Ryan Harvey McLellan, 26, was also ordered to pay $87,835 in restitution costs to his victim, Holly Grue of Bass River, who has been left paralyzed from the waist down since the accident that occurred in the early hours of Jan. 1 while she was leaving a New Year's Eve dance at the Economy rec centre.
"I guess I'm satisfied with it," Grue said,
outside the courtroom, immediately following the sentencing on Thursday in Truro.
"It would be nice to see him go for a longer time, but at least he's going."
McLellan, who has not possessed a driver's license since 2009, will not be eligible to apply to drive again for at least eight years after he is released from prison. He must also provide a DNA sample for authorities.
In handing down the sentence, provincial court Judge Warren Zimmer described McLellan as having "a very callous indifference" to the welfare of his victim, given that despite being aware of striking someone on the roadway, he kept on going before stopping to let out a protesting passenger and then putting the vehicle in the ditch about 500 metres from the accident scene. He then ran away and did not turn himself into the police until the next day.
"But he left Ms. Grue behind on the roadway without so much as a second thought for her and knowing he had run her over with the Jeep. And he took off," Zimmer said.
By his own admission, McLellan had consumed 15 beers in less than 12 hours leading up to the accident. The court heard that he missed striking another vehicle on the road by about two inches just prior to striking Grue, who suffered a fractured skull, bleeding on the right side of the brain, fractured pelvic, ruptured spleen and fractured ankle, plus multiple rib fractures and broken vertebrae, which has left her paralyzed.
"I think it is clear that the degree of moral culpability, moral responsibility, is higher in a criminal negligence case than an impaired driving case causing bodily harm to the extent that moral culpability is an important factor in determining the length of a sentence," Zimmer said.
"The injuries suffered by Ms. Grue, were, I don't know if you can describe them other than horrific, by any standards."
The court heard that McLellan's "worst enemy" is alcohol, which he has had difficulties coping with for many years and that he has smoked a gram of marijuana a day since the age of 18, prior to being arrested on Aug. 31.
Although marijuana was not raised as an issue during an earlier reading of the case facts by the Crown prosecutor, it was hard not to accept that McLellan had not been mixing alcohol and marijuana in the hours leading up to the accident, Zimmer said.
"So how much marijuana did he smoke before he drank his 15 beer and ran down Ms. Grue on the roadway that night? One might ask that question ...," he said. "Why would you expect his normal daily behaviour to be interrupted on that day, which is one of the biggest party days around for people?"
Speaking outside the courtroom, Grue said she is getting by in her situation through the help of family and friends but that the horror and outcome of the accident continues to haunt her.
"I'm coping with it," she said, quietly. "I still have my days, you know, where it hits me and that's all I can think about, is what he did to me and the state I'm in now. But you find ways to overcome that. Without the family and friends that I have I probably wouldn't be as far along as I am now."