5-month jail sentence for driver convicted in crash that killed New Westminster teen
SURREY, B.C. -- When the Malcom family left the Surrey Provincial Courthouse Friday, they were surrounded by more than a hundred supporters all donning blue ribbons in honour of their daughter but they found no justice nor closure.
“There will never be justice for our daughter Olivia’s senseless death,” said mother Bridget Malcom.
On June 2, 2018, Olivia Malcom, who was just a few days shy of her 20th birthday, was with two friends when they decided to pull over off the side of Highway 17A at a bus loading zone to check for something in the trunk.
Olivia was standing at the back of the vehicle when Chao Chen, who was 42 at the time, was driving a Jeep and accelerated just seconds before ramming into her.
She died from her injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The court heard how Chen was distraught at the scene and a witness saw him dispose something from his vehicle, which he later admitted was a bottle of whiskey.
Chen was initially facing charges of impaired driving causing death and over .08 causing death, but less than two weeks before the trial was set to begin, Crown counsel decided to stay the charges and pursued a lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.
He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
Judge Emmet Duncan said since Chen had denied he was impaired by alcohol, he cannot attribute the crash to that.
“His decisions had catastrophic consequences and although Mr. Chen did not intend harm, this was not an accident, this was a case of dangerous driving,” Duncan said.
“There are no jail sentences that will bring Olivia back … although this will make no one whole, I hope it can bring closure.”
The judge handed Chen a five-month jail sentence and a three-year driving ban.
Olivia’s parents said they have been exhausted by the justice process.
“Just before Christmas, we were still expecting from the prosecutor three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half years for impaired driving causing death. So to be here today, for five months -- no,” said father Anthony Malcolm.
A spokesperson for the Crown counsel said they received information about the case that resulted in the original charges being stayed.
“After considering this information and conducting a full review of the investigative materials the prosecutor concluded the charge approval standard on the original charges could no longer be met. In these circumstances a stay of proceedings is the appropriate course of action,” said Dan McLaughlin.
Bridget Malcom said they are living their own life sentences in a world without Olivia.
“There’s justice in this chapter, so they want to say,” the mother said pointing to the courthouse. "Not in our life. We live our life without our daughter who was 19 years old, and is no longer here to live out her life and her dreams.”