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Sentencing underway for driver who pleaded guilty in fatal Burnaby hit-and-run

Family and friends of Charles Masala, the 53-year-old who was struck and killed by an SUV while cycling up Burnaby Mountain two years ago, faced the accused Tuesday as his sentencing hearing got underway.

Sumeet Mangat, 24, pleaded guilty in October to impaired operation of conveyance causing death and failure to stop after an accident resulting in death.

Under the Criminal Code, each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Masala was an engineer with two master's degrees who moved to Canada from Zambia in 1991.

“He was one person that just uplifted everyone,” said Grace Mchaina, one of Masala’s sisters. “He wanted the best for everyone.”

“It just breaks my heart,” said Nellie Masala, who had travelled from the U.K. to make a statement at the hearing.

“Something should have been done before this happened.”

According to the victim's family, he was headed out for his regular weekend bike ride in June 2019 when he was struck and killed.

His widow, Michelle, told CTV News on Tuesday that she and the couple’s two young children still have not figured out how to live without him.

“He lost the right to change the world and that’s what he was planning on doing,” shesaid.

In a statement to the court, the accused told the Masala family he was remorseful, and wished he could undo the damage that he’d done.

“There are no words in this statement that can capture the remorse, the sorrow, and how sorry I feel,” Mangat told court.

Crown is asking for a three to four year sentence, while defence told the judge any jail sentence would act as a deterrent, no matter the length.

“We really hope that there is some kind of justice served,” said Chisomo Mchaina, the victim's niece.

She added: “Ultimately we would want our uncle back and that’s just not going to happen unfortunately.”

Michelle Masala said she doesn’t see an opportunity for justice, but instead, a call for change, highlighting the precedent in Canada of what she called low sentences for impaired drivers who took another life.

“How can we just do something so that the path my family has walked is easier for the next family (who loses someone to an impaired driver), because there will be a next family,” she asked.

Mangat’s next court appearance is scheduled for early January. Top Stories


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