'I am not a monster,' N.S. drunk driver tells sentencing hearing

·3 min read
'I am not a monster,' N.S. drunk driver tells sentencing hearing
This photo shows a 'court in session' sign at Dartmouth provincial court. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
This photo shows a 'court in session' sign at Dartmouth provincial court. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

A 19-year-old man from Dartmouth, N.S., will have to wait a few more weeks to learn how much more time he will spend in jail for a series of drunk driving incidents, including a crash that sent two people to hospital with serious injuries.

Sentencing arguments were made Tuesday in Dartmouth provincial court in the case of Brandon James Crombie, who has been in custody since that crash in February.

The Crown is recommending Crombie spend up to 36 months in jail, followed by a ten-year driving prohibition.

The defence is asking for a one-year jail sentence with a shorter driving prohibition.

Both lawyers agree that Crombie should receive 224 days credit for the time he has spent on remand, meaning if the judge adopted the defence recommendation, Crombie would face another 4.5 months behind bars.

Crombie drove into oncoming traffic

On the afternoon of Feb. 6, police in Dartmouth received a 911 call about a hit-and-run incident in a parking lot on Tacoma Drive.

Court was told that a red Mazda 3 backed into another vehicle, then took off.

As he was fleeing the scene, the driver went up an exit ramp onto Highway 111, driving in the wrong direction toward Eastern Passage, N.S., into the path of oncoming vehicles.

Motorists reported the Mazda swerving all over the road before colliding head-on with a blue Hyundai Elantra carrying Kyle Rice and Jessica Baker. The crash was recorded on the dashboard camera of another car, and the court provided CBC with the video.

The driver of the Mazda was identified as Crombie. He suffered minor abrasions.

Police later learned that he bought the car earlier that same day for $750. He did not have a license or registration for the vehicle.

Both victims remain off work

Baker suffered a broken back that required surgery to fuse her spinal cord. She remains off work.

Rice suffered several broken bones in both feet that required surgery. He spent 11 days in hospital, followed by four months in a wheelchair. He now walks with a cane and has also not yet been able to return to work.

The February crash that injured Rice and Baker came just six months after another drunk driving crash in which Crombie drove his car off the Upper Lakeville Road in Upper Lakeville, N.S., and hit a tree.

In November 2020, Crombie was again charged with impaired driving after a traffic stop on Baker Drive in Dartmouth.

Police learned that he had bought the car he was driving — a grey Pontiac — earlier that same day for $800. He also did not have a license or registration.

Crombie's lawyer said her client had a very unstable upbringing, as his mother struggled with mental health issues and frequently acted as though she didn't want her son around.

History of alcohol abuse

Court heard that Crombie started abusing alcohol at age 11 and by the time of the crashes, he was consuming about a quart of rum a day.

He has not completed high school and his lawyer said Crombie has not been offered any counselling or help with his addictions. He has now been prescribed medication to deal with depression and anxiety.

When asked if he wanted to offer any comments, Crombie told the court, "I'm not a monster."

"There's no excuse for my reckless and dangerous behaviour," he said. "I'm terribly regretful and remorseful, greatly ashamed of my actions and of myself."

Judge Frank Hoskins will sentence Crombie on Aug. 6.

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