Granting Berner bail 'ridiculous,' mom says
Published Friday, November 26, 2010 2:45PM PST
The mother of the four-year-old girl killed by a B.C. drunk driver says the court's decision to release her on bail is "ridiculous."
Carol Berner was sentenced to 30 months behind bars earlier this month for killing Ladner youngster Alexa Middelaer. The girl was run down alongside her aunt at the side of a country road in May 2008.
Berner was granted bail Friday morning.
In her decision, B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Carol Mahood Huddart said Berner's entitlement to a release is strong and was not necessary in the public interest. Huddard pointed to Berner's "previously unblemished record."
Speaking to CTV News outside the Vancouver court, Laurel Middelaer said she understood the decision but questioned the judge's assertion that Berner didn't pose a risk to the community.
Middelaer said Berner is denying responsibility for her actions by going free.
"What I find most challenging is the fact she apologized, took responsibility and then yet she's pursuing this. It's really a get out of jail free card," she said.
Berner, who was being held at the Surrey Pretrial Centre, is being released into the custody of her sister and brother-in-law. She is to reside with them in Ladysmith and check in periodically with a probation officer.
It could be late 2011 before the high court hears her case.
Berner is seeking an acquittal, a judicial stay of proceedings or a new trial.
Justice Huddart ruled that Berner must serve the rest of her sentence if her appeal fails. She noted that if Berner was not granted bail, she would have served much, if not all, of her sentence before her appeal is even heard.
Berner's lawyer, David Tarnow, had argued his client should not spend any time in jail, partly because she was not "excessively intoxicated" at the time of the incident.
He said the Crown should not have been allowed to present victim impact statements during the trial, including a multimedia presentation and picture essays about Alexa.
Tarnow told CTV News Friday he believes his client has strong grounds for an appeal based on errors made during the trial.
"It's a tragedy what happened but there are legal issues that have to be dealt with," Tarnow said.
At the time of the crash, Berner was doing 91 kilometres an hour in a 50-km/h zone on a rural road with speed bumps. During the trial, the court heard Berner tell an undercover police officer she had three glasses of wine prior to the accident.
She returns to court in June 2011 to set a date for the appeal.