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Deadly drunk driving accident nets jail sentence

This was the scene of the 2012 drunk-driving crash on Vye Road that killed passenger Brian Patchett of Abbotsford.  - Abbotsford News file photo
This was the scene of the 2012 drunk-driving crash on Vye Road that killed passenger Brian Patchett of Abbotsford.
— image credit: Abbotsford News file photo

His leg shaking, Matthew Hamon issued a tearful apology Tuesday for driving drunk and causing an accident that killed his best friend and injured two young women.

Hamon had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2012, when the 1997 Chevrolet Malibu he was driving struck a concrete barricade, hit a power pole and flipped on Vye Road near Sumas Way.

Brian Patchett (in photo below), a 22-year-old father of two young children, died at the scene. Two female passengers – Hamon’s then girlfriend and now-wife, and her cousin – suffered serious injuries and were hospitalized for two weeks.

Hamon, 23, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison Tuesday. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

“Thinking about all the things I should and shouldn’t have done, I wish I could just go back in time,” Hamon said.

Before Hamon’s speech, Judge Brent Hoy heard from Patchett’s wife, Liz Squires, and mother, Michelle Patchett.

Both spoke to the physical, emotional and spiritual damage caused by Brian’s death.

While she and Brian were separated at the time of the crash, Squires said she had “wanted nothing more than the opportunity to start again.”

His death put an end to that and forced her to explain to her young children what had happened to their father.

Michelle Patchett said she was “overcome with grief, anger and sadness,” and said Brian was “becoming a wonderful father to his children.”

She and Squires both said they forgave Hamon, despite residual anger for the crash. Both also said they wish Brian had chosen not to get into the car that night.

Hamon was convicted earlier that year of assault with a weapon. He was given a suspended sentence and 18 months probation, during which he was prohibited from drinking.

He also only had a Class 7 licence and was not permitted to drive with alcohol in his system or more than one passenger. He was also supposed to be the designated driver the night the crash occurred.

Nevertheless, the court heard that Hamon – after consuming at least two drinks – had driven his three passengers from Abbotsford to a nightclub in Chilliwack the night of the crash. After consuming alcohol there, Hamon drove the three back to Abbotsford, where they stopped at McDonalds shortly before the crash.

An expert estimated that the vehicle was travelling between 96 and 110 km/h when it crashed. The car’s rear passenger-side door collided with a power pole, causing multiple blunt force injuries to Patchett, who was sitting in the rear passenger-side seat.

Hamon was arrested at the scene. His blood alcohol content was measured at 0.173 more than an hour after the crash occurred.

Crown counsel Rob MacGowan and defence lawyer David Silverman submitted a joint submission asking for a sentence of two years and six months in jail, to be followed by a three-year driving prohibition.

Judge Hoy agreed that such a sentence was appropriate, noting “the defendant’s level of moral culpability is high.”

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