‘Too much car’ led to accident

Jonathan Martin calls it the worst day of his life, but it could have been more horrific after he hit a woman pushing a baby carriage.

Jonathan Martin calls it the worst day of his life, but it could have been more horrific after he hit a woman pushing a baby carriage.

It was somewhat miraculous the infant in the stroller wasn’t injured, said Crown prosecutor John Boccabella on Monday in provincial court.

But the mother wasn’t so lucky. She suffered a broken leg and thumb, and partially severed ear in the accident which occurred June 2, 2009.

“The car was too much for him,” noted Judge Brian Saunderson, when he convicted Martin of dangerous driving causing bodily harm last December.

Martin was back in court on Monday for sentencing, but he’s already filed an appeal of the conviction. The appeal is slated to be heard March 8.

Martin, 30, was described as hard-working grocery manager at the Great Canadian Superstore, who had no previous criminal record prior to the accident.

According to his lawyer, Tom Bishop, Martin’s father is a car buff and he gave his son an old Ford Mustang.

Together, father and son fixed up the car which featured a standard transmission and a lot of power under the hood.

But Martin didn’t have much experience driving a fast car or a standard. He would sometimes stall the car or “chirp” the tires while changing gears.

On the fateful day, it was around 8:40 a.m., when witnesses saw the white Mustang fishtailing on the road leading into Discovery Harbour Mall.

Martin then lost control, drove over the curb and struck a female pedestrian and  the stroller.

As a result of her injuries, the victim was in a leg cast for six weeks and required six months of rehabilitation. She also required physiotherapy for her broken thumb and still requires surgery for her partially severed ear.

Bishop said Martin has shown sincere remorse for his actions and hasn’t driven the Mustang since then. But the problem for the court was how to properly sentence him.

Martin wasn’t impaired, speeding or recklessly driving, and had an almost unblemished driving record before the incident. His lone ticket was for speeding when he was a teenager.

“Mr. Martin certainly had a better driving record than me before this offence,” said Bishop.

The defence, the judge and the Crown all agreed it was a unique case as they worked to fashion a suitable sentence.

Judge Saunderson said Martin should be serving a conditional sentence in his home, but the law does not allow for that.

In 2007, the federal government changed the law, taking away conditional sentences for injury accidents involving dangerous driving, much to Judge Saunderson’s dismay.

“It is regrettable Parliament has precluded a conditional sentence,” he said, adding that some changes interfere with the discretion of trial judges.

Judge Saunderson agreed there was little use in sending Martin to jail and instead handed him a suspended sentence with one year of probation and a one-year driving prohibition.

But Martin faces other potential legal problems. As a result of his conviction, his insurance is null and void, and he may have to pay thousands of dollars in damages if a civil lawsuit against him is successful.