No jail time for driver responsible for two fatalities

Steven Lineker, whose inattentive driving led to two fatalities in Mission, will not serve jail time.

A Mission man who rear-ended another vehicle, causing the death of two people, will not see jail time, the Abbotsford provincial court decided on Thursday.

Steven Lineker, 36, was sentenced to a $2,000 fine and an 18-month driving prohibition.

On Oct. 16, 2010, Lineker had rear-ended a Chevy Cavalier on Lougheed Highway, between Manson Street and Dewdney Trunk Road. The Cavalier had stopped to make a left turn. The vehicle ended up being pushed into the opposite lane, where it collided with a Mazda Protege.

Anthony Shaves, 33, the driver of the Mazda, was killed, as was Lenore Hopkins, 76, the passenger of the Chevy. The driver of the Chevy survived only after spending months in a coma in a hospital.

Crown counsel Wayne Norris argued at the sentencing hearing on Sept. 20, 2013, that Lineker was distracted. He presented phone records that showed that Lineker made several calls in the few minutes surrounding the collision.

Defense lawyer David Forsyth argued that Lineker was using a legal hands-free bluetooth device for the calls.

Norris had recommended a sentence of a jail term of four to six months, a $2,000 fine, and a four-year driving prohibition.

The defense had recommended a fine, a driving suspension, and probation. The defense had acknowledged that if the judge felt a jail term was in order, then 10 to 21 days would be sufficient.

Norris said after the sentencing that the lighter final sentence of a $2,000 fine and an 18-month driving ban is appropriate given the evidence released during trial.

Under the evidence presented, Lineker was eventually sentenced for being inattentive, rather than causing the death of two people and injuring a third.

“There is a distinction between ‘dangerous driving,’ and ‘driving without due care and attention.’ The ‘dangerous driving’ has a much greater mental element to it,” said Norris.

“In this case, the evidence disclosed that he was simply being inattentive. We started out with charging him ‘dangerous driving causing death,’ but as trial proceeded, the evidence simply did not unfold as we had anticipated. In the result, the charge had to be changed to (Section)144 of the Motor Vehicle Act, which, on the evidence, is the correct charge.”

For a charge of ‘dangerous driving’ to hold, evidence of dangerous driving would need to have been found prior to the accident, and not during or after the collision had occurred.

The result of this trial is in keeping with other similar cases not only in B.C., but across the country, said Norris.

“It’s very few cases where jail is actually given for this kind of offence,” said Norris.

One of the deceased, Lenore Hopkins, had become a prominent member of the Fraser Valley community for having organized the Fraser Valley Toy Run. The annual event, now in its 27th year, has hundreds of motorcyclists ride across the Fraser Valley to collect donations of toys for the Christmas Bureaus. The event has been proceeding in Hopkins’ memory since her death.

Lineker declined to address the court when offered the opportunity to do so by judge G.J. Brown before the sentence was passed.

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