Nadeem Jiwa was sentenced to 12 years in 2010 in the death of Detective - Constable Rob Plunkett who was killed in the line of duty. His widow Sonja spoke briefly to the media as did the York Regional Chief of Police Eric Jolliffe.
Credits: STAN BEHAL/QMI AGENCY
Five years on, still unable to get on with their grieving, still sucked back into the eddy of Nadeem Jiwa, the man who killed York Region Det. Const. Rob Plunkett and who defiantly refuses to take responsibility for what he has done.
Now whining all the way to the Court of Appeal to be set free.
"It's been a really long journey and this is a chapter we weren't expecting," Sonja Plunkett said briefly outside the Ontario Court of Appeal Wednesday. "But we're dealing with it really well and we're just going to continue to move on."
She and her supporters filed into the grand Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, just as they had attended the court in Newmarket, Ont., for a preliminary hearing, and then for last year's trial and the sentencing. On the opposite side of the ornate courtroom were members of Jiwa's family, hurting in their own way.
Before three judges that morning, lawyers for Jiwa were arguing that his 12-year sentence for manslaughter was just too much for the poor young man with no criminal record.
Already out on bail for air-bag theft and violating his 1 a.m. curfew, Jiwa and a co-accused were on a Markham, ON, street when an undercover team moved in to arrest them after a night of their stealing air bags and a car. While his friend quickly gave up, the 19-year-old refused to surrender and instead got into his stolen gold Honda and threw it into reverse with Plunkett, 43, hanging on to the door until he was crushed against a tree.
Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby told the appeal court that Jiwa's 12-year sentence was "far outside the appropriate range" for such a crime and that Justice Michelle Fuerst should have given him six years.
If she had, he would have been freed long ago.
Plunkett's family and friends looked at each other in disgust as his lawyers argued that Jiwa didn't know the approaching men were police officers because they were dressed in plain clothes and rather than trying to resist arrest, his flight was a momentary lapse of judgment.
"You've got a very few seconds of dangerous driving - the panic sets in," Ruby said.
"He got scared," added defence lawyer Nader Hasan. "He sees a large figure in the doorway. He got spooked. He pressed his foot on the pedal, causing officer Plunkett to collide with the tree."
So why did he then keep driving? And when another cop stopped his car with his own, why did he jump out and start running?
The trial judge didn't believe Jiwa's story that he had no idea the guys coming at him yelling, "Police, police" were indeed officers. It made no sense, she ruled, that someone stealing air bags wouldn't assume that anyone approaching him would be a police officer. And that conclusion is one the appeal judges shouldn't challenge, argued Crown attorney Michal Fairburn, who also prosecuted the case last year.
"A police officer was killed in the line of duty in this case and that in and of itself was such an aggravating feature here," the prosecutor told the appeal court in urging them to retain the 12-year sentence. " He drove knowing there was a police officer clinging for his life to the door with nowhere to go."
The appeal panel said they were reserving their decision and so both sides filtered out into the sunshine, knowing a few more months of uncertainty stretch ahead.
For John Miskiw, president of the York Regional Police Association, that will take them into another summer without his friend Robbie at his side, another summer without him playing fastball on his team or chatting about the three kids he loved so much.
"He was a great guy," he said with a smile that faded as quickly as it appeared.
"Five years ago we were in the hospital and it seems like yesterday," Miskiw said. "It just rejuvenates all those feelings that everybody went through for the police community and the family as well."
All because Jiwa refuses to take his punishment like a man.