WATCH ABOVE: Catherine McDonald has this exclusive story from the courtroom when 36-year-old Tara Gawlik was sentenced for being drunk behind the wheel with her kids in the car.
It was an upsetting and unbelievable day for the family of Michael Holden after Tara Gawlik, the Newmarket woman accused of killing the 26-year-old apprentice plumber while drunk behind the wheel with her three children in the car, was sentenced to a year-long driving ban and a $1,500 fine.
A judge acquitted Gawlik on the charge of impaired driving causing death, but found her guilty of impaired driving.
Holden’s mother and aunt came to court hoping for a multi-year driving ban, if not a lifetime suspension. Instead, they said the decision was a slap on the wrist.
“One year, that’s not fair. I don’t even know what to say,” said Brenda Wood, Holden’s mother, outside of court on Thursday.
“I figured it would be years because she was over the double the limit and the children were in the car and they were injured. And from what [the judge] was saying, I thought he was going to make an example.”
It was on Jan. 17, 2016 when Gawlik was arrested and charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation causing death after York Regional Police were called to a two-car collision at the corner of Green Lane and Main Street North.
Holden, who was on his way home from work and was driving a Honda Accord, was pronounced dead at the scene. Gawlik and her three daughters, 13-year-old twins and a 12-year-old, who were in a Kia Rondo, were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
During a day-and-a-half-long trial in June, Justice Nyron Dwyer believed the testimony of one of Gawlik’s daughters who testified her mother was turning on an advanced green light. Dwyer concluded the car she collided with, which was being driven by Holden, was at fault by running a red light.
The crown recommended a 12- to 18-month driving ban for Gawlik, along with a $1,500 fine. Neil Singh, Gawlik’s lawyer, recommended a 12-month ban and a $1,500 fine.
“This has been a very difficult case for everybody. Clearly for Ms. Gawlick, but also for Mr Holden’s family. I can imagine how they feel. The disposition of this case is not reflective of the worth of Mr. Holden,” Dwyer told the court before handing down his sentence.
“I have to give a sentence reflective of what Ms. Gawlick was found guilty of.”
Wood could be heard crying as the judge read out the sentence.
Singh said the sentence reflects the conviction, but he said he understands why Holden’s family is upset. He said Gawlik “accepts responsibility for drinking and driving.”
“She feels terrible about what happened to Mr. Holden — we all do. It’s very tragic. There are no winners in this case,” Singh said.
Source: Global News