(Today’s Northumberland file photos)
A Port Hope man’s last words to his family were “I love you guys” as he was taken away in handcuffs to serve eight years in prison for the death of 23-year-old Serena Shaw.
Shaw was a passenger in a 1971 pickup that 41-year-old Jason Bickle was driving on Sylvan Glen Road just east of Welcome on August 4, 2021.
Bickle was found guilty of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle (from a August 1, 2021) and also impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death of Shaw and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death of the collision on August 4 at approximately 11 p.m.
Neither Bickle or Shaw were wearing their seatbelts.
The sentencing was held in Oshawa Court with Justice Halikowski speaking briefly about the sentence before Bickle was placed in handcuffs and taken away.
Shaw’s family and friends filled up over half of the courtroom with Bickle’s family and friends taking up about a quarter of the room.
Justice Halikowski also wrote a in-depth 29-page judgement giving the reasons for the sentence.
The night of the collision the pickup left the entrance to Sylvan Glen Road from an intersection and proceeded northbound. Tire mark evidence shows that it immediately lost traction due to spinning rear tires- drifted towards and slightly on the left shoulder – was corrected and drifted to the center of the road still proceeding without traction. For reasons to be determined the vehicle then exited the road into the westerly ditch. The truck rolled over coming to rest on its wheels.
The investigation determined the tire marks measured 135 meters.
Three days before the fatal collision, on August 1, 2021, Bickle who was in the company of Shaw drove his pickup truck into a controlled intersection in daylight and proceeded to drive the truck in a counterclockwise direction at such speed the vehicle’s rear tires spun and lost traction. Bickle continue to drive around in circles three times before leaving the intersection.
In his sentencing notes, Justice Halikowski said, “Bickle exposed this unbelted passenger in his motor vehicle to his dangerous driving behaviour is an aggravating factor.”
“Bickle actively created a situation of danger when it was completely unnecessary to do so. He did so out of the sheer enjoyment of creating and then engaging in a dangerous driving manoeuvre.
He then allowed his actions to be videotaped and posted on the worldwide net for others to enjoy and even emulate.”
Minutes before the fatal collision Bickle also drove in a dangerous manner near the scene where Shaw was killed.
Bickle was found to have been impaired by alcohol at the time of the fatal collision.
Justice Halikowski also said the tires on the pickup were bald and would have increased the risk of harm or death to himself or Shaw.
Bickle’s criminal record dates back to November 2001 when he was 21-years-old. He was convicted of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and was fined and received a driving suspension of one year.
Justice Halikowski said Bickle has a “extensive” Highway Traffic Act record spanning from 2001 to 2022.
Bickle was convicted on nine separate occasions for speeding.
Significantly he was convicted of speeding 30-49 kph over the limit in April 2006 and October 2008 as well as speeding 30 kph over the limit in 2007. Similar convictions occurred in May 2016 and January 2021 with convictions of speeding 29 kph and 20 kph over the limit.
He was also convicted of fail to have insurance card (three times), fail to producing driving documents (10 times) and more seriously operate motor vehicle without insurance (2001).
Justice Halikowski said in his findings that Bickle’s speeding record, “denotes an ongoing disregard for public safety.”
“Causing death by a criminal act attracts consideration of a sentence based on the principles of general deterrence and denunciation.”
“In this case, given Bickle’s prior history of having committed a related driving offence and his extensive Highway Traffic Act record – both for driving and administrative offences, specific deterrence must also be considered.”
The Victim Impact Statements for Shaw said prior to her death she was involved in the community care organization.
“Her immediate family lost a young daughter and sister – someone who had her whole adult life before her – a life that would have involved her in family events – a life that may have produced children and grandchildren who could have enriched the lives of everyone.”
“The Court was also reminded that individuals outside of Ms. Shaw’s immediate family and friends will also suffer her loss.”
Justice Halikowski raised the issued that Bickle will never be able to find personal relief from the guilt he must feel for the damage he has caused. Damage which will also arise from his not being fully for his family.
The Crown was seeking eight years, while the Defense submitted that a three to four-year sentence.
Justice Halikowski stated some of the reasons for the sentence included that Parliament has signalled the need for higher custodial sentences in cases involving impaired causing death, deterrence and denunciation are governing principles, deterrence remains and important factor to individualize a sentence and to ensure the offender gains a sense of personal responsibility of his act, the sentence must acknowledge the harm done to the victim and the community and the sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of blameworthiness of the offence.
Justice Halikowski stated that Bickle’s record should have been a “wake-up call” for him prior to the fatal collision.
Even the wreck less driving three days before the collision that killed Shaw, “ought to have further alerted him to cease his dangerous driving behaviour.”
“The accused (Bickle) appeared to relish the excitement of this sort of driving allowing its publication on social media. Within days, he repeated similar driving behaviour, but this time he was impaired by alcohol.”
“The results were catastrophic, but easily predictable.”
“Bickle found a level of joy and amusement in endangering himself and others.”
Bickle was sentenced to eight years on the charge of impaired operation causing death, with eight years being imposed concurrently on the charge of dangerous operating causing death on August 4, 2021 and six months concurrently on the offence of dangerous operation on August 1, 2021.
On the impaired operating causing death conviction – given that an appropriate driving prohibition is agreed by counsel to be 10 years, Bickle will be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle anywhere in Canada for 18 years and that prohibition will run concurrently with any Highway Traffic Act suspension he will receive.
Outside of court, Today’s Northumberland spoke with Serena’s father Steve Shaw.
“Two families are going to be scared forever. Nobody wins in this situation.”
Shaw said it’s be “hell” going through the court process with delays happening on both sides and COVID delaying the process.
“My family has a lot of time to go over this – it’s been tough.”
“My families doing ok, we’re getting support. We have lots of support from family and friends.”
“We’re getting through this one day at a time.”