At one time in my career, I was primarily a criminal defence lawyer, and I still do some criminal defence work today. I still believe that everyone is entitled to a fair trial and representation by a competent lawyer, but I will only take on the defence of people accused of a crime who are first-time offenders who I am fairly certain did not commit the crime they’ve been charged with.
In fact, these days, my sympathies lean more towards law enforcement, and I even teach law in the police technologies program to graduate police officers. I’ve been made an honorary member of the Blue Knights, the law enforcement motorcycle club.
That being said, I was shocked to read that Raymond Lévesque has been granted day parole. Raymond was not one of my clients.
He was, however, a repeat drunk driver who killed a 20-year-old woman in 2007. He was convicted of impaired driving causing death and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
At the time that Lévesque killed his victim in 2007, he already had seven impaired driving convictions behind him! After driving into the woman who later died in hospital, he fled the scene and went home. When the police officers arrived at his house to arrest him he asked to take one last drink of beer before being taken into custody.
His breathalyzer test showed that he had three times the legal blood-alcohol limit, but he claimed to have been drinking steadily since he hit the young girl and left the scene. He also admitted that he had drunk at least four beers shortly before he took this fateful drive.
There was not much of a trial, since Lévesque pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 10-year prison term in August of 2009. However, with the time he had already served prior to his trial, which counted as double, by 2011, just two years later, it was considered that he had already served almost half of his 10-year sentence.
Lévesque recently appeared before the National Parole Board and is said to have taken the responsibility for the young girl’s death and expressed regret for what he did. He even claimed that after he had been convicted on one of his previous drinking and driving convictions in 1996, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and was sober for 10 years.
Nonetheless, he began drinking again in 2007 and immediately went back to drinking and driving. The psychiatric experts told the parole board members that he had a willingness to make an effort in therapy but did not have much capacity to learn from therapy.
Since his sentence included a ban on ever having a driver’s licence again, Lévesque argued that this would be sufficient to make sure that he did not drink and drive again. The psychologists were not convinced.
Even with all this, the members of the national parole board decided to grant Lévesque day parole allowing him limited release into society on condition that he follow a treatment for his alcohol addiction. They did give him a stern warning that if there was any sign of him returning to drinking alcohol they would return him to a full-time penitentiary to serve the rest of his sentence. But in the meantime, he would be released to a halfway house and allowed some freedom during the day.
What were these guys thinking?