A B.C. Supreme Court justice sentenced an impaired driver who killed a respected TIB elder to two years in prison Wednesday.
Robert Bill pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and leaving the scene of an accident. David Seymour, 64, was walking down a road on the Tk’emlups Indian Band reserve in July last year when Bill’s speeding car crossed to the wrong side, striking him and sending Seymour 15 meters.
Bill stopped to check on Seymour but didn’t seek medical help. He continued driving to a relative’s house, where he struck another vehicle and fled on foot.
Five hours later Bill turned himself in to the RCMP detachment, where he told police what happened.
Bill’s lawyer said he was on a drinking binge mourning the death of Jesse Seymour, his victim’s cousin.
(The man alleged to have murdered Jesse Seymour, Torbin Alec, is scheduled to stand trial at the end of the month.)
The Crown asked for a 2.5-year sentence while defence asked for a two-year sentence followed by probation.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Dev Dley called David Seymour “a cherished, respected and much-loved member of his family.”
The range of sentencing for impaired driving causing death is 18 months to eight years in jail.
A pre-sentence report included details about Bill’s upbringing as a young child in a home rife with alcohol and physical abuse.
“Mr. Bill’s aboriginal heritage and its impact is simply one of the facts I must consider,” Dley said.
While Bill has been sober since the tragedy, Dley said the courts must send a message to others about drinking and driving.
“A jail sentence is required to express society’s outrage with crimes of this nature.”
In addition to the two-year federal sentence, Bill will be on probation for three years. He is banned from drinking and must take counselling as ordered by probation officials during that time.
Bill has lived on the TIB reserve since 1993 but is now banished following a band council resolution.