Waterloo Region Courthouse

Rod Frketich, Record staff
Waterloo Region Courthouse

A Waterloo man who told his lawyer he “likes to drive fast” was clocked at 200 km/h on Highway 401, court heard on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Cynthia Jennison said it’s “pure luck” Francis Samson didn’t wind up like Ahmed Darwish, who was sent to prison on Monday for killing a woman with his car.

“It’s very interesting timing right now for this gentleman to appreciate that someone that did what he just did but killed someone doing it just went to jail for 7½ years,” Jennison said.

Samson, 23, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving while under a court order to not drive.

On Monday, Darwish, 27, of Kitchener was sent to in prison after pleading guilty to five charges, including dangerous driving causing death and impaired driving causing death.

Darwish was driving 214 km/h on Highway 7/8 just west of Kitchener last November when his Mercedes hit the back of a Mazda 3, killing a woman and badly injuring her two-month-old son.

“Today, you are only going to jail for a short period of time,” Justice Michael McArthur told Samson. “It won’t be 7½ years, but you reflect on that. You’re going to have some time to think about that. This is a significant wake-up call.”

Samson was sentenced to 90 days in jail. After enhanced credit for pretrial custody, he has another 31 days to serve.

On April 1 just after 3 p.m., police spotted a Ford Edge travelling 200 km/h on Highway 401 near Woodstock. It was passing cars on both shoulders. For safety reasons, police did not chase it.

At 3:31 p.m., an OPP officer saw the Edge speeding east on the 401 near Conestoga College. The officer followed but did not activate the siren or lights.

Near the King Street ramp, Samson slammed on the brakes and swerved to exit. Off the highway, Samson drove normally, at 60 km/h.

The officer then initiated a traffic stop at Gateway Park Drive and Sportsworld Drive. Samson accelerated to 150 km/h. The officer did not chase him for safety reasons.

Police then learned Samson’s identity and the address of the owner of the car. It turned out to belong to Samson’s mother. They found the car and Samson at his mother’s house on High Street in Waterloo.

Born and raised in Khartoum, Sudan, Samson and his family lived in a refugee camp in Cairo before settling in Canada in 2011.

In court, defence lawyer Harold Cox said it’s ironic Samson is enrolled in a police foundations course at Fanshawe College in London.

“This is a somewhat puzzling case because he seems to be interested in the police and yet here he is tearing down the 401 in a very dangerous fashion,” Cox said. “His explanation to me was that he likes to drive fast.”

At the time, Samson was a suspended driver from an impaired driving conviction.

In addition to jail, Samson will be banned from driving for three years. He will be on probation for 15 months and was ordered to give a DNA sample.

He must take any counselling recommended by his probation officer. McArthur, the judge, suggested counselling on the hazards of marijuana may be helpful. Cox had said his client has a problem with marijuana use.

The judge said marijuana may partially explain his actions, “but it doesn’t provide you an excuse.”

McArthur commented on the impending legality of pot.

“It might be legal, but it’s like drinking alcohol and driving. You have marijuana and driving and drinking and driving, you’re going to put yourself at risk and other people at risk.”

The judge asked Samson how he’d feel if a motorist put his family at risk.

“Not happy,” he replied.

Source: The Waterloo Region Record