Drunk driver responsible for 2011 death charged again with impaired driving

A Nova Scotia man who went to prison for a drunk driving crash that killed a woman in 2011 is once again facing impaired driving charges after a car smashed into a utility pole Thursday night in Dartmouth.

Kevin Charles Purcell, 36, of Beaver Bank is facing three charges related to this week's crash, including driving while impaired and driving while disqualified.

RCMP say the utility pole on Montague Road near Loon Lake was hit about 10:45 p.m. Nova Scotia Power spokesperson David Rodenhiser said damage to the pole knocked out power to more than 3,000 customers for about three hours.

Purcell was scheduled to appear in Dartmouth provincial court Friday.

2011 fatal crash

Purcell is still serving a six-year sentence related to a crash that killed his common-law partner, 41-year-old Tammy Coffill. He was granted day parole last year and reached his statutory release date in September after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

Offenders must be released on their statutory date, but remain under the supervision of a parole officer until the end of their sentence. Purcell's sentence ends October 2017.

In October 2011, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death, driving while disqualified and stealing gasoline for a crash that killed Coffill. 

The pair were in a vehicle driven by Purcell when he failed to stop at a stop sign and crashed through a guardrail near the Mount Uniacke exit of Highway 101.

According to the police news release at the time, Coffill was not wearing her seatbelt and died at the scene. Purcell was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Forbidden from consuming alcohol

Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show Purcell was given day parole in July 2014, but had it revoked that November when he used drugs. He got day parole again in May 2016.

Under the conditions of his release, he was not to consume alcohol or drugs, was forbidden from operating a motor vehicle, and was to have no contact with the victim's family. He was subject to a five-year driving ban, a 10-year firearms ban and a lifetime ban from possessing restricted weapons. 

In deciding whether to grant him day parole last year, the parole board noted letters of support from his girlfriend and a family member. 

But the board also said Purcell had 30 separate convictions for thefts, break and enters, and many driving offences. Not long after he arrived in prison, he got into a fight — despite still being on crutches from the crash.

Moderate risk

The parole board said his behaviour improved from 2013 onward and he completed a number of in-prison programs. He had been accepted into a trades program at a community college, starting in September 2016.

The halfway house he had stayed at previously refused to accept him and a second one took the "cautious" decision to take him. Police opposed his release. 

The board declared him a moderate risk to reoffend and granted him day parole.