A young man was led away in handcuffs out of courtroom 205 at the Chilliwack Law Courts Monday sentenced to six months in jail for a dramatic hit-and-run that seriously injured a female pedestrian.
Judge Robert Gunnell described Cody Bianco’s driving in the incident two and a half years ago as “horrendous.”
And that was after the hit-and-run, when the now 27-year-old continued speeding east on Wellington Road the wrong way on the one-way stretch, nearly striking members of a band loading up after a gig at the pub, all before crashing into a pedestrian island at Five Corners.
“There is a high degree of moral blameworthiness,” Gunnell said before handing down the sentence of 120 days for fleeing the scene after colliding with the woman, and 60 days to run consecutive for the dangerous driving after the fact.
Because the case was largely circumstantial – with Bianco’s lawyer putting forth highly speculative suggestions on what might have happened – he escaped a much more serious sentence as he was found not guilty at trial on three counts: impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing an accident resulting in bodily harm, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The incident dates back to Sept. 27, 2015 when Kelsey Archer and her husband James Archer were at a party on the Skwah First Nation reserve at the end of Wellington Road. Kelsey testified that Bianco was also there, he made unwanted advances towards her, and a fight ensued between Bianco and Mr. Archer.
The Archers left the party and proceeded to walk down Wellington Avenue towards downtown. That’s when Kelsey was struck from behind by Bianco, who fled.
Moments later, at closing time at the Triple Play Pub at Five Corners, three members of the band Rockabilly Jay & The Cadillac Bones were loading up gear out front when they heard a loud bang and saw Bianco speeding towards them.
One band member estimated Bianco was travelling at between 80 and 100 km/h.
Also witnessing the crash was RCMP officer Sgt. Mike Sargent who happened to be stopped on Young Road at a red light. Bianco got out of the car and urinated in front of the officer who then arrested him.
Before sentencing Bianco, the court heard how the hit-and-run impacted Kelsey Archer.
“She suffered very significant injuries for which she still still suffers today,” Gunnell said. “She suffers serious anxiety today.”
Despite the seriousness of the offences, Gunnell pointed to Bianco’s lack of a criminal record, an apology letter he wrote to the victim, life changes he made stopping the consumption of alcohol, his employment aspirations, and the stigma resulting from media coverage, all as reasons for a sentence well below the maximum.
His defence asked the court for a suspended sentence, probation and community service under “exceptional circumstances” given his good behaviour.
Gunnell ruled a custodial sentence was needed to express the principle of general deterrence.
Since he spent two nights in custody, Bianco was given credit for three days leaving him with a 177-day sentence. He is also prohibited from driving for two years.