A Comox Valley teen who was involved in an overnight hit-and-run on Comox (Dyke) Road last September entered a guilty plea for leaving the scene of an accident causing bodily harm Thursday morning.
Surrounded by friends and family, Molly Burton, the 24-year-old who was struck by the driver, looked in a courtroom at the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Dressed in a red shirt, he avoided eye contact with the gallery and stood next to his lawyer, Dale Marshall.
Burton suffered critical injuries to her lower right leg and right arm Sept. 11 when she was struck by a vehicle. She lay in nearby brush for several hours until Brody Fullerton, who was on his boat across the water near the Courtenay Airpark, heard her screams for help.
Crown and defence lawyers agreed Thursday it would take several weeks to create a pre-sentence report, and will return to court April 10 at 9 a.m.
Outside the courthouse, Burton explained she wanted to be present to see the teen for the first time.
“It was something I had to do. I won’t really know for awhile whether it helped or not; I have to process it,” she said. “I expected him to have the decency to acknowledge my existence, since he’s the one who put me here.
“He’s the reason I was in that courtroom, and he didn’t (acknowledge her) and his parents stood between him and me and my support crew like a wall and it seemed really cowardly.”
Burton said while she’s glad for the plea, she’s unsure whether jail time would be the necessary outcome.
“My hope is that they will give him a driving ban and he will obey it. My hope is that while I might not get justice through the court systems that he will walk away from this having learned and grown as a better person and maybe not, this won’t ever happen again.”
Burton’s parents echoed their daughter’s perspective.
“All along, from the very first week, Molly’s been saying this has been a life-changer for me, this needs to be a life-changer for Brody who found her, and the driver,” noted Leslie Wells, Molly’s mother.
“She’s been maintaining that hope that through all of this (the driver) learns to become a very responsible person. Driving is a huge privilege, and you need to be very responsible in order to handle that privilege. In this case for sure, he’s not been,” added Wells.
Burton remains in her wheelchair and added she has weeks of bone grafting and surgeries ahead.
“I’m very much impacted by it every single day. I’m sure he’s got days where he doesn’t even think about it or what he’s done to me. I wake up every single day — it’s my life now.
“It’s not just something that’s happened to me, it’s my life and it will be my life forever.”