Nearly a year and a half after his actions behind the wheel of his sports car killed three people, Oscar Benjumea has learned his fate.
The justice sentenced Benjumea to nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death, as well as failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing death.
After his sentence, Benjumea will face a 10-year driving ban.
“Those are the model kinds of prisoner and person who should be entitled to early parole,” defence lawyer Dino Bottos said. “You’re not likely going to see this person in trouble again. He’s clearly learned from his mistake here.”
Benjumea was the sole survivor of the single-vehicle crash on Calgary Trail north of 51 Avenue in July 2020.
Court heard he drove his Audi 186 km/h in a 60 km/h zone before it barrelled into a Starbucks.
The violent crash claimed the lives of three passengers: Emma MacArthur, Georgia Donovan and Faisal Yousef.
At his sentencing hearing in December 2021, the now 27-year-old Benjumea said it was “excruciatingly painful to know that I can’t go back and change what happened.”
In an agreed statement of facts, court heard Benjumea asked Good Samaritans who rushed to the scene in the immediate aftermath of the crash if they had a gun and would shoot him, repeating, “I’m f—-ng done” over and over.
He then fled the scene while strangers tried to help his passengers.
Benjumea was arrested by police 10 hours later and officers found bloodied plastic bags with money and personal identification documents in his vehicle.
At the time of the crash, Benjumea was prohibited from driving after being convicted of refusing to blow in another incident.
Court also heard Benjumea had been to seven bars or clubs the night of the crash and had drank at least six ounces of alcohol.
One of the victims — Yousef — was Benjumea’s friend. The pair had just met the two female victims, MacArthur and Donovan, earlier in the night at Spotlight Lounge, off Whyte Avenue.
Fifty-one victim impact statements were read to the court, outlining the gravity of loss felt by family and friends of the victims.
The lawyers in the case had been far apart in their sentencing submissions, with the Crown seeking a 13-year prison sentence followed by a 10-year driving ban. The defence had sought five to seven years in prison, followed by a five-year driving ban.
“He realizes that as long as his sentence is, it doesn’t replace the lives of three young people in the prime of their lives,” Bottos said. “Their sentence never ends. He understands that.”
Benjumea will receive 2.3 years credit for time served, plus an additional 101.5 days because of COVID protocols that keep prisoners locked up for 22 hours a day.
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