Nanaimo Courthouse. (News Bulletin file photo)

Motorist sentenced to two years for dangerous driving causing death on Gabriola Island

William Goosman pleaded guilty last fall in connection with incident that killed Jay Dearman

A motorist who struck and killed a jogger on Gabriola Island in 2018 will spend two years in prison.

William Sydney Goosman, 49, was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo on Feb. 23, for dangerous driving causing death in an incident in which Jay Dearman was killed.

Goosman entered a guilty plea on Nov. 30. He will serve his time in a provincial correctional facility.

According to a statement of facts, numerous witnesses stated they saw Goosman driving his minivan dangerously and erratically prior to the incident. A parent dropping her child off at school estimated Goosman was driving 80-100 kilometres per hour.

Dearman had been jogging with a group, including wife Suzanne, along the shoulder of Berry Point Road when he was struck by the van. The coroner ruled his death was by blunt force trauma.

Gabriola Island RCMP members attending the scene said they detected a faint smell of alcohol on Goosman’s breath, but testing revealed he had 0.028 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millitres of blood – below the legal limit. Goosman said he had two glasses of wine two hours before the accident.

Goosman is a long-term heroin addict and was on Suboxone in 2018 to help wean him from his dependency, which affected his ability to drive, said Michael Ritzker, defence counsel.

Addressing Suzanne Dearman, Judge Robin Baird said the maximum sentence is 14 years’ imprisonment, but that is rare. Eight months to six years in prison is typical depending on the circumstances, he said. Brett Webber, Crown counsel, and Ritzker submitted a joint submission and Baird said he was bound by instructions from the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to the submission unless there were compelling reasons.

In a victim impact statement, Suzanne Dearman said she was traumatized by the sight of her husband’s body on the road. He was a huge part of the community, loved being a volunteer firefighter, and had died before the birth of a grandchild. Suzanne Dearman admonished Goosman and asked him what he was doing while she was informing her husband’s parents about his death and choosing a coffin.

Goosman apologized for what happened and said he felt horrible about it. He said he wanted to do whatever he could to make up for it.

Following release from jail, Goosman will be on 18 months’ probation and is prohibited from consuming alcohol or drugs during that time. He will be forbidden from having any contact with Suzanne Dearman and is prohibited from driving for five years.

The lead investigator was involved in an accident which made him unavailable for the trial that had been scheduled to begin last November.

Neither Webber nor Ritzker wished to comment following sentencing.

RELATED: Man charged in death of Gabriola firefighter seeks trial


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