Man who killed girlfriend in Torbay drunk driving crash could see 4½ years behind bars

Tyler Harding awaits a sentencing decision after lawyers made their submissions Monday. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Tyler Harding awaits a sentencing decision after lawyers made their submissions Monday. (Malone Mullin/CBC - image credit)
Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

A 30-year-old man awaits sentencing after driving drunk and causing the death of his girlfriend in Torbay in 2021.

Tyler Harding pleaded guilty to one count of impaired driving causing death and to several breach of condition offences.

Harding appeared in a St. John's provincial courtroom Monday, apologizing to the family of his late girlfriend, Katie Hynes, as they cried from the gallery.

"I want to say sorry for what I've done," Harding said. "I made a mistake. I'm learning day by day.... I'll never let it happen again."

An agreed statement of facts outlined the night of Aug. 8, when Harding and Hynes climbed into Harding's truck. Both had been drinking at the Bella Vista in St. John's, according to several witnesses.

Those witnesses say Harding consumed as many as nine drinks, and said he was so intoxicated he couldn't walk in a straight line. One woman tried to stop Harding from driving before he skidded away with Hynes in the passenger seat.

The truck crashed on the Torbay Bypass Road near Jack Byrne Arena. Hynes was ejected from the truck and pronounced dead at the scene.

Harding was found by a witness crawling out of the passenger window, looking for Hynes.

"That's my baby Katie," he said. "Please help her. I just want to get her home."

A passing off-duty police officer also stopped at the scene.

"I shouldn't have been driving," Harding told him. "We were both drinking and arguing. She cranked the wheel. I just hope Katie is alright."

Harding's blood alcohol was over twice the legal limit.

Crown wants 4½ years

Prosecutor Ashley Target argued Harding's prior drunk driving conviction should elicit at least 4½ years behind bars and a 20-year driving ban.

Harding was "grossly intoxicated getting behind the wheel," she said.

"Mr. Harding is quite young. However, in his short life he has driven once while under the influence and was convicted of that offence. He has now driven a second time under the influence and that has resulted in death."

Mark Gruchy, Harding's lawyer, argued for a three-year sentence and a driving ban under 20 years, pointing to Harding's upbringing in a home with alcohol abuse and cognitive impairment.

"Tyler Harding is a 30-year-old man with a background and intrinsic attributes that go quite a long way to explain how there was a loss of impulse control," Gruchy said.

A sentencing decision is scheduled for June 1.

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