EDMONTON — An Ontario man who drove his sports car into a Starbucks in south Edmonton, killing all three of his passengers, has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Oscar Benjumea, who is 27, pleaded guilty in May to three counts of dangerous driving causing death in the 2020 crash, as well as to failing to stop at a fatal collision.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn sentenced Benjumea to 7 1/2 years for the deaths, as well as a further 18 months, to be served consecutively, for leaving the scene.
Michalyshyn says he took into account that Benjumea was nine months into a yearlong driving ban at the time of the crash and had consumed alcohol before driving.
He rejected the driver's assertion that a head injury sustained in the crash prevented him from fully understanding what he had done.
But the judge says Benjumea is a good candidate for rehabilitation, noting his relatively young age as well as his guilty pleas as mitigating factors.
“Mr. Benjumea’s case includes three deaths and dangerousness that approaches the most serious imaginable and accordingly attracts the highest level of moral blameworthiness,” Michalyshyn ruled Friday.
“His post-offence conduct speaks to his guilty mind. He was well aware of the calamity he caused yet he acted in furtherance of his own self-interest.”
At the sentencing hearing last December, Crown prosecutors recommended a 13-year sentence.
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos argued for a sentence of five to six years.
"We understand that some members of the public would like you to lock Mr. Benjumea up and throw away the key ... however that is not how we sentence offenders in Canada,” Bottos said.
An agreed statement of facts says Benjumea was driving his 2018 Audi R S5 at a speed of up to 193 kilometres per hour in an area with a posted speed limit of 60 km/h after leaving a club with the three others after 2 a.m. on July 3, 2020.
Benjumea lost control of the car and hit a curb, which sent the vehicle into the air before it slid across a grassy area and slammed into the Starbucks.
The passengers killed in the crash were 21-year-old Georgia Donovan, 20-year-old Emma Macarthur and 32-year-old Faisal Yousef.
The judge also banned Benjumea from driving for 10 years from the date of his release and ordered him to provide a DNA sample.
He has about 6 1/2 years remaining to be served after credit for time already spent in custody. (CTV Edmonton)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.
The Canadian Press