Sentence delayed in Fitzgerald conviction


The sentencing of a woman convicted of obstructing justice for attempting to cover up a crime allegedly committed by her son has been delayed.

Allyne Fitzgerald was expected to be sentenced Thursday but her lawyer, Joe Doyle, said he would require more time to complete his submission. Doyle told the court that attempts to retrieve the transcript of a case he wished to cite in his submission were unsuccessful. Instead, he produced a newspaper article.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams said he would continue with the sentencing hearing but would have to consider the defence's addition at a later date.

The decision means the family of Robert Staines, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2006, will have to wait for another day for sentencing.

During the trial, the Crown showed Fitzgerald helped hide her son's car in her garage and paid for repairs, despite knowing it was involved in a collision that killed 21-year-old Staines. Charges against Fitzgerald's son, James High, were stayed, but she was convicted of obstructing justice.

Prosecutors are asking the judge to sentence Fitzgerald to 18 months in jail, a sentence the defence said is too severe.

Doyle asked that his client be allowed to serve her sentence in the community, adding that the Crown concedes Fitzgerald is not a risk to re-offend. He also said Fitzgerald has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the incident and the media attention she has received.

"She is very much in the public eye," Doyle said. "There is no way to make friends in that situation."

In her victim impact statement, Jocelyn Staines, mother or Robert Staines, wrote: "My heart is broken and my trust in other human beings has been shattered" and "I can't think of a way that our life hasn't changed and nothing for the better."

She also said: "Mothers love their children with all their hearts but there is an obligation to teach them right from wrong by example."

Fitzgerald spoke at the hearing, saying of the Staines family: "I can't imagine the pain they have endured and I am truly sorry for their loss."

A sentence will be pronounced on May 24 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.


Victim Impact Statement of Jocelyn Staines, Mother of Robert Staines

When the police came to tell us that Rob had been killed we were all in shock and disbelief. We were unable to eat, sleep or think clearly. Somehow we arranged Rob's funeral, hating every moment of arranging a funeral for a 21-year-old healthy, happy young man.

As time went on and reality hit us, our little boy was never coming home. I questioned the point of going on but realized that was the easy way out. We had raised three boys with Rob being the oldest. Rob was a generous young man and took care of his friends. We were happy to see him starting out on his life as a young adult.

It has taken close to five years to arrive at this guilty verdict and during this time our emotions have ranged from disbelief, acceptance, horror, anger and exhaustion.

I will always have thought of Rob in his last moments as he saw what was going to happen and the pain and fear he must have felt for a split second before he died. My heart is broken and my trust in other human beings has been shattered.

I know as time goes on there will be constant reminders of our loss. I have lost the chance to see Rob marry, have children, excel at his work and for him to bury us. One of my dreams was to have all my boys, their wives and my grandchildren over for Christmas. I was looking forward to the utter chaos that would create.

As a mother I lived through Rob and his adventures, so there is now a part of me that is permanently missing. The victim impact brochure states to say how our life has changed since Rob's death, I can't think of a way that our life hasn't changed and nothing for the better. I am jealous of all families that are complete and miss Rob always. I think of Rob many times a day, every day.

I work in the justice system and found I had to change my job as every file I dealt with had a victim. I became very angry with life and began to worry that I would hurt someone, so I went to see my doctor and she prescribed an antidepressant.

We have several picture of Rob around the house but I still it hard to look at them. We received many flowers, food and help from our family and friends. I kept one particular vase with a single white rose. It reminded me of how I felt, standing along,  withering away in muddy waters.

I constantly worry about my two sons, Ian and Andrew. I wish them wonderful lives but know that there will always be a shadow following them.

My children are precious to me and this has been the most horrendous way to learn that lesson. Mothers love their children with all their hearts but there is an obligation to teach them right from wrong by example.

I have been searching for a way to end this victim impact statement and have realized there is no end to this!

Jocelyn Staines

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