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Sentencing decision in Humboldt Broncos case expected to see some delays

FILE: Truck driver Jaskirat Sidhu walks out of provincial court after appearing for charges due to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Melfort, Sask., on July 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to all 29 counts against him related to the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash

A criminal lawyer says sentencing Sidhu will be complex because of the amount of guilty counts, among other factors

Sidhu wasn't driving under the influence, and distracted driving isn't believed to have been a factor

HUMBOLDT, SASK. (NEWS 1130) — Emotions are expected to run high as sentencing begins tomorrow for the driver involved in the deadly Humboldt Broncos Crash.

Family and friends are expected to fill the courtroom and read impact statements about those they lost or were injured in the deadly crash. The case is complex, and the judge is expected to take some time to deliver a sentence — possibly until the end of the week.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 injured when a semi-truck crashed into a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.

RELATED: How life for the Broncos has changed: a look back as Monday sentencing hearing approaches

The driver of the truck Jaskirat Singh Sidhu pleaded guilty to 29 counts related to the crash: 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death, and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Each charge of dangerous driving causing death carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, and for causing bodily harm the maximum is 10 years.

Criminal defense lawyer Sarah Leaman says it’s more likely the charges will be served concurrently — serving multiple sentences at the same time — rather than consecutively, which means it is likely Sidhu would face a maximum of 14 years in prison. Consecutive sentences would mean serving time for each charge back-to-back, for a maximum of 354 years.

She says the numerous guilty pleas and circumstances surrounding the crash means there are a lot of things to consider in the sentencing process.

“The sheer volume of counts that he’s entered guilty pleas on is astronomical. Legally speaking, we don’t normally see those kinds of numerous proceedings in terms of pleas being entered,” she says. “That is a unique element of this case.”

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The number of victims, as well as the fast expression of remorse from Sidhu makes this case different than many, as well as the fact that there were no drugs or alcohol involved in the crash, and distracted driving with electronic devices also seems to not be a factor.

“These kinds of cases that are of such a high-profile nature, the judge does want to take some time to deliberate and to really weigh out the options,” she says. “It’s going to be interesting to see the way the judge weighs the mitigating and the aggrevating factors here.”

The hearing will include some submissions from the Crown lawyers about the facts of what happened in the case, and from the defense about who Sidhu is as a person, his role in the community, and the way he feels about his involvement in the crash.

And while every case needs to be considered seriously, Leaman says the court is aware of the high-profile nature of this case.

“I’m sure the lawyers and the judge, they’re all well-aware of the fact that the entire nation is watching,” she says. “It’s important to be extra diligent in those kinds of situations.”