Nine months in jail for pedestrian death
Recklessly driving his motorcycle into and killing a pedestrian in a downtown crosswalk more than two years ago has cost a Kamloops man the chance to be present for the birth of his son.
Jack Laughlin Hobal was sentenced on Tuesday, Dec. 13, to nine months in prison after earlier this year pleading guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing death.
The 34-year-old struck and killed Gary Pengelly, 55, at First Avenue and St. Paul Street on July 5, 2009.
Prior to sentencing, court heard Hobal was speeding, weaving and even performed a wheelie prior to the collision.
“One witness said the bike looked to her like a horse that was rearing back,” said Crown prosecutor Neil Flanagan.
“The clear and consistent theme is that of a motorcycle being operating in a manner which all of the witnesses found quite alarming.”
Flanagan told court Hobal had a blood-alcohol level of somewhere between 0.075 and 0.089.
Pengelly, who died in hospital shortly after the collision, was also intoxicated, court heard.
Hobal has a lengthy criminal record, including a conviction from 2001 for robbing his own mother at knifepoint and another last year for sexual interference with a person under 16.
Flanagan told the court all of Hobal’s past crimes have a constant theme — a “disturbing disregard for the safety of others.
“This is a case where Mr. Hobal placed a higher value on whatever pleasure he derived from operating his motorcycle at a high rate of speed . . . than he did on the safety of others in the roadway,” Flanagan said.
Court was told Hobal was speeding south on First Avenue as Pengelly was crossing westbound at St. Paul Street.
At some point, Pengelly noticed Hobal’s motorcycle speeding toward him. The pedestrian attempted to turn back toward the curb from where he had come.
Hobal, however, attempted to weave around Pengelly by going behind him. The two collided and the motorcycle came to rest at the base of a wooden hydro pole.
Flanagan was seeking a jail sentence in the range of nine to 12 months, plus a three-to-five-year driving ban and a two-year probation term barring Hobal from drinking or using drugs.
Defence lawyer Don Campbell, meanwhile, asked B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Powers for a 90-day jail term to be served on weekends, in addition to a strict long-term probation order.
Campbell told court Hobal’s girlfriend is pregnant, due to have a baby boy on Dec. 29.
He said Hobal would like to be around for the birth of his child.
For his part, Hobal told Powers he wished the collision never took place — but said he has learned a lot in the months and years since.
“It’s really been an eye-opening experience and it’s unfortunate it took something of this magnitude,” he said.
“For the life of me, I really wish I would have just stopped.”
Hobal said he’s “too old for this” and wants to straighten out his life.
The judge did not take issue with that.
“As you say, you’re getting too old for this — and I agree,” Powers said.
“It’s time to grow up.”
Powers handed Hobal a nine-month jail sentence and a five-year driving ban, in addition to the two-year no-alcohol probation term the Crown had been seeking.