N.S. driver in fatal hit-and-run sentenced to 6 months in jail

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Matthew Gerald Kennedy has been sentenced to six months in jail and two years probation for a hit-and-run in Dartmouth that left a man dead.
Matthew Gerald Kennedy has been sentenced to six months in jail and two years probation for a hit-and-run in Dartmouth that left a man dead.

(Anjuli Patil/CBC)

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has sentenced Matthew Gerald Kennedy to six months in jail and two years probation for a hit-and-run in Dartmouth that left a man dead.

Kennedy, 27, struck Gary Rogers, 57, early on the morning of Feb. 22, 2019.

Kennedy was driving to the Nova Scotia Community College on the Dartmouth waterfront.

Rogers was crossing Pleasant Street after leaving a nearby Tim Hortons. It was before dawn.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Rogers was wearing dark clothing and was not in a crosswalk.

Drove to school

The collision hurled Rogers onto the hood of Kennedy's car and Rogers's head smashed through the windshield.

Kennedy did not check on Rogers. Instead he drove on to school, parking next to a snowbank in an effort to conceal the damage to his vehicle.

Kennedy was reading radio newscasts that morning as part of a broadcast journalism program. The hit-and-run was one of the top stories in each of those newscasts.

The statement reads that Kennedy left the college a couple of times between newscasts, driving to the scene of the collision that was close by.

He did not get out and he did not tell anyone of his involvement. Instead, he told friends and classmates that the damage to his vehicle was caused by a chunk of ice flying off a tractor-trailer.

Following his newscasts, Kennedy completed a class assignment and drove to a job interview at a Halifax radio station.

He then went to the Halifax Shopping Centre before the start of his afternoon job as a traffic reporter at another Halifax radio station.

Tried to hide the damage

Court heard that Kennedy took pains to park his car at the mall in the corner of an underground garage to conceal the damage.

Meanwhile, at the scene of the hit-and-run, police had retrieved a piece of wreckage. With the help of a local Ford dealership, they were able to narrow down the make and model of the suspect vehicle.

Kennedy then parked his car in a grocery store lot on Young Street in north-end Halifax, across from the radio station where he worked. Someone spotted the damage and alerted police.

"Over the course of the 12 hours, his behaviour can no longer be characterized as impulsive," Justice John Bodurtha said Friday in sentencing Kennedy.

"It was calculated."

Kennedy initially told police about flying ice to explain the damage to his Ford.

But police returned to the car a second time and arrested him. It was only then that he admitted he was the driver in the hit-and-run.

"The actions taken by this offender are so elevated and extreme, that I must take them into consideration in considering an appropriate sentence," Bodurtha said.

Judge describes actions as 'cowardice'

Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and obstruction of justice, which spared the victim's family having to sit through a full trial.

Kennedy's lawyer had suggested a conditional sentence to keep his client out of jail. The judge rejected that, describing Kennedy's action that day as one of "cowardice."

"It was contrary to any standard of decency," the judge said.

"The life he took was a son, a brother, a fellow human being. Rogers deserved better than to die on the street alone. He deserved an act of kindness, one of humanity before he passed."

Kennedy is banned from driving while he's on probation and he must also perform 100 hours of community service.

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