Nancy Carrier was shovelling snow in front of her home last November when a chaotic police chase came crashing down her Plateau-Mont-Royal street, ending with her being struck and propelled metres away.
The force of the crash punctured both her lungs, broke several bones throughout her body and left her in an intensive care unit for weeks.
At the Montreal courthouse on Monday, the man police were chasing that day, Sébastien Théodore, was sentenced to a one-year driving ban and a two-year probation period.
Given the jail time he’s already served since being arrested, the equivalent of 16 months, Théodore, 41, was left with only one day to serve in detention. He was to be released Monday evening.
Earlier this month, a jury found Théodore guilty of two counts of dangerous driving but acquitted him of the more serious charges he faced, including dangerous driving causing bodily injury and criminal negligence.
Central to the case were Théodore’s “judicial and political philosophies” that lead him to believe all provincial laws are illegal and, in part, explain his behaviour the day of the chase.
On Nov. 17, 2018, Théodore was driving with a suspended licence when he crossed the Jacques Cartier Bridge into Montreal. A Sûreté du Québec patrol officer told him to pull over. Due to his beliefs, he told the court, he insisted on handling the matter with federal authorities and told the officer he was heading to the nearest RCMP office instead.
During the ensuing 15-minute chase, Théodore drove through a series of red lights and into oncoming traffic on busy streets, going between 60 and 80 kilometres per hour. At one point, he collided with a police car, did a U-turn and kept going. At another, police officers smashed in his driver seat window with batons in an attempt to get him to stop.
The chase finally ended when officers cut him off on Sherbrooke St. E., where Théodore crashed into a lamppost after colliding with another police car. Carrier was struck by a car in the mayhem. A police officer was also severely injured.
During the trial, the jury heard that the Montreal police supervisor overseeing the chase had tried to call it off on two occasions but was either ignored or not understood.
In his decision on sentencing, Brunton ruled that since the jury acquitted Théodore of the more serious charges, it must have concluded that “it wasn’t for Mr. Théodore alone to assume the responsibility for the serious injuries the two victims suffered.”
Brunton also ruled the jurors’ decision shows they questioned whether it was truly Théodore’s intention to flee the police or if he would have gone to the RCMP office had he not been chased.
Théodore represented himself throughout the proceedings and walked out on them on at least two occasions.
On Monday, Brunton described him as hot-tempered and unpredictable, but appeared to believe Théodore when he told the court he’s learned the limits of his beliefs.
“Mr. Théodore defends his beliefs and his right to express them. On the other hand, he informs the Court that he is aware his beliefs do not allow him to do whatever he wants,” Brunton ruled. “If he is intercepted by the police in the future, he will avoid any situation that could lead to a chase.”
Carrier was not at the courthouse on Monday.
After the hearing, Crown prosecutor Sylvie Dulude told reporters she was disappointed by the sentence. The Crown had argued for a three-year prison sentence, from which Théodore’s served time would have been deducted, and a three-year driving ban.