A Toronto-area man has been sentenced to six years in prison after he was found guilty of impaired operation of a canoe causing death in an April 2017 incident which left an eight-year-old boy dead.
David Sillars was also convicted of three other charges, including operation of a vessel with a blood-alcohol content over 80 milligrams causing death, dangerous operation of a vessel causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
In his sentencing hearing Friday, he was also given a 10-year ban on operating a vessel.
On April 7, 2017, the 40-year-old took his girlfriend’s eight-year-old son Thomas Rancourt for a canoe ride down the Muskoka River. Shortly after, the canoe capsized and Rancourt, who was wearing a life jacket, was swept downriver, went over a waterfall at High Falls and subsequently drowned.
Sillars was able to swim safely to shore.
READ MORE: Toronto man on trial for impaired operation of canoe causing child’s death
During his trial, court heard that school buses had been cancelled that day due to poor road conditions and that the water was turbulent and fast-flowing.
Rancourt’s mother, Jessica Hooper, testified during the trial that Sillars was like a stepfather and a role model to Rancourt and that she did not believe Sillars showed any signs of impairment prior to the deadly canoe ride.
Court also heard Sillars’ minimum blood-alcohol content was 128 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood and that he had 14 nanograms of THC in his blood.
Crown prosecutor Frank Giordano told Global News that Sillars has already filed an appeal, which will be heard later Friday, and he will most likely be released on bail shortly after.
Rancourt’s father, Jamie Rancourt, who was in court Friday told Global News he is happy but frustrated that Sillars will most likely get bail.
“I want him in jail now,” Jamie said.
Justice Peter C. West called the case “unique” in the sentencing.
“It is the first time charges have been prosecuted respecting the operation of a canoe where the individual operating the canoe had consumed alcohol and marijuana,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the tragic consequence of David Sillars’ decisions on April 7, 2017, is that Thomas’ family will have to deal with Thomas’ death and his absence for the remained of their lives,” West continued.
“The sentence I impose today can in no way change the catastrophic and tragic loss of such a young life.”
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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