BARRIE – It was a tragic case of road rage when hundreds of bad-tempered drivers were trapped in the Midland Walmart parking lot during a heatwave on a busy Canada Day weekend and a man was killed as frustrations soared.
As motorists tried to escape by driving the wrong way out a back entrance, blocking other traffic, victim Corby Stott got out of his vehicle and stood in front of drivers to order them back on July 2, 2016.
He met up with the wrong driver – the one who would kill him – when he stood, arms folded defiantly, in front of Jason Heffernan, then 25, of London, who was in his souped-up orange 1997 Honda Civic.
The two men yelled at each other, Heffernan revved his engine, and somehow Stott ended up on the hood, pounding and smashing at the windshield as Heffernan drove a short distance then slammed his breaks to throw Stott off.
Stott landed hard and cracked his skull on the pavement and lay there in a pool of blood as his horrified mother and young children watched.
Heffernan was charged with murder but has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
“This was a showdown between a car and an unarmed man in shorts and a T-shirt,” Crown attorney Carolyn Ross said during the sentencing hearing Thursday. “Mr. Heffernan used his vehicle as a weapon to ram against him.”
“There are images of Corby that I can’t get out of my head,” said Stott’s common-law widow, Casey Mackinlay, as she wept on the witness stand.
Her hands trembled as she held up a photo of Stott and the children. She told how his five-year-old son, dressed in his Spiderman suit for a party, asked her to take him to the cemetery, “so I can show daddy.”
During the preliminary hearing last summer, 39 witnesses gave mixed testimony – some saying Stott was the aggressor, challenging drivers to “hit me, hit me,” while others testified he was only trying to help with the backed-up traffic that trapped drivers in the jammed parking lot for as long as 45 minutes.
“I was afraid of him,” testified Phillis Lafiave, of Midland, as she described how Stott pounded on her car.
She said a man next to her told her, “that guy is going to get himself killed.”
“I am truly sorry,” said Heffernan, red-faced and weeping, as he stood at the front of the court and turned to face Stott’s family who crowded the courtroom. “I am ashamed of myself.”
The Crown is asking for an eight-year prison sentence and 20-year driving prohibition while lawyer Sean Robichaud is asking for a two-year sentence with a five-year driving prohibition, saying Heffernan had no intent of hurting anyone.
A judge will decide his fate in August.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies