The Howe's were driving home from a night out together when a truck driven by Chad Mitchell Olsen slammed into their car.
Credits: COURTESY PHOTO/OCEAN QUEST
CALGARY -- The drunk driver who killed a Red Deer couple two years ago, leaving their five children orphaned, was granted full parole Wednesday.
And the release of Chad Mitchell Olsen after serving only
16 months in jail is again renewing calls by MADD Canada for stricter sentences.
Olsen was initially given a 27-month sentence last April for killing Brad and Krista Howe on Feb. 7, 2010, after he ran a red light and slammed his speeding truck into their car while he was intoxicated about three times the legal limit.
Last October, his sentence was hiked to 3 1/2 years by appeal judges, but at a hearing Wednesday he was granted full parole, with conditions that he must abstain from alcohol and participate in psychological counselling, said Gary Sears, Prairie region spokesman for the Parole Board of Canada.
"It's not walking, he is on conditional release, he is under supervision and he will serve the remainder of his full sentence, which was imposed by the courts while on full parole so he will have to abide by the conditions of his parole," he said.
But to Wayne Kauffeldt, past chair of MADD Canada's national board of directors, Olsen's release after only serving 16 months is another example of the need for harsher sentences that better reflect the gravity of the tragedy.
"We would like to see much more effort and implementation of at least minimum sentencing and tighten up the sentencing, make it harsher, make it reflect the tragedy," he said, adding rarely if ever are maximum sentences handed down.
"Here we have five young children who have been orphaned as a result of this very selfish and absolutely preventable crime and 16 months later the perpetrator is walking the streets -- you tell me how that mirrors, it just doesn't match up."
It's an issue MADD has been lobbying the federal government about for a number of years.
"Because quite frankly, the judicial system allows an individual if he keeps his nose clean in prison to get full parole in about one-third of his sentence," he said.
He said hands are tied, including those of judges, because most sentencing happens by virtue of precedence.
Alberta's solicitor general Jonathan Denis said the provincial government is doing everything it can under its constitutional power to increase penalties for drunk drivers.
"There have been many sentences of drunk drivers convicted often involving the deaths of others that have been in my impression too lenient -- I am saddened by lenient sentences for drunk drivers, particularly when the death of innocent people is involved," he said.
"One of the purposes of the new legislation of .05 was to provide an escalating level of penalties for repeat offenders."
A written decision will be released in 15 days.