Dolat Jiwani, 80, 0f Surrey was killed in this crash in Newton on July 15, 2017, at 132nd Street and 72nd Avenue. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)

Surrey drunk driver left scene of fatal crash to chase after his dog

Submissions heard Friday in impaired driving causing death of 80-year-old Surrey grandma Dolat Jiwani

The Crown is calling for a federal prison term of two-and-a-half to three years for a Surrey drunk driver who smashed into a car with his SUV at 129 km/h in the middle of an intersection in Newton, killing an 80-year-old grandmother and injuring her granddaughter.

Shavin Reynold Singh, 31, pleaded guilty on July 30 to impaired driving causing death in the case of 80-year-old Dolat Jiwani and impaired driving causing bodily harm of the teen, who suffered broken bones and burns.

Dolat had recently been the recipient of a liver transplant and suffered plenty before being given that new lease on life, the court heard.

Her eldest son, Hussain, told the court that she is sorely missed.

“We always pray for her soul to rest in eternal piece,” Hussain said, with his sister-in-law interpreting, and that his family “hope and pray” Singh will learn from this so more people don’t suffer.

Singh apologized to the victims’ families. La Prairie reserved his decision to Nov. 13.

The crash happened on July 15, 2017 at 72nd Avenue and 132nd Street, where the posted speed limit is 50 km/h. Judge Peter La Prairie heard sentencing submissions Friday, in Surrey provincial court. Winston Sayson is the Crown prosecutor and Michael Beckett is Singh’s defence lawyer.

Sayson asked the judge to denounce the “pointless killing of innocent people.”

“It is not an accident,” he said. “It is a true crime.”

Sayson also argued for a driving prohibition of three or four years while Beckett sought a sentence of two years less a day to two-and-a-half years in prison. He said his client has never tried to deflect blame for the crash.

“He has always worn it squarely on his shoulders, and it weighs very heavily on him,” Beckett told the judge.

Beckett heard that Singh drank five “squeeze” watermelon vodka drinks before driving, downing his last one just 10 minutes before the crash. Witnesses reported seeing the Dodge he was driving speeding, and swerving in and out of traffic. He was on his way to a pet store, to buy a dog leash. He left the scene after the crash, to chase after his dog when it ran away.

Dolat died on the spot.

“The accused has a long-term and entrenched drug and alcohol problem,” Sayson said. Family members left the courtroom before a traffic camera video of the crash was played.

Singh already had three immediate roadside driving prohibitions – a one day, a three day and a 90 day – and also had a history of failing to stay at the scene of a crash and driving without a licence, which he has never held. He was prohibited from driving, by court order, at the time of the fatal crash. Sayson said Singh’s “pattern of disregard” demonstrates contempt for the law.

The court heard that upon his arrest, Singh told police that he learned to drive by watching video games.

READ ALSO: Nine traffic fatalities in Surrey so far this year

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Jiwani’s granddaughter Hannah – not the one who was injured – said she was the glue that kept their family unified and the umbrella that kept them safe.

“He (Singh) left us empty, angry and sad,” she cried. “I will never get to hug her again, because of his actions.”

Beckett, in his submission, presented the judge with reference letters from Singh’s mother, pastor and others.

“What they’re really asking for is leniency and mercy,” he said. “Mr. Singh is heavily remorseful.”

He told the court Singh quit drinking since the fatal crash. He’d been self-medicating with alcohol, Beckett said, after his father died of a heart attack in his arms in 2014.

Beckett said Singh is the breadwinner for his family and his going to prison will be hard on them. He said his client is thinking of speaking to high school students about the dangers of drunk driving.

Impaired driving causing death carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm is 10 years.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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