Ryan John Grob, 36, has been sentenced to six years in jail following the 2019 hit-and-run death of Spencer Alexander Moore in Parksville.
Grob was charged with impaired driving causing death. On Friday (Sept. 3) in Nanaimo provincial court, Judge Karen Whonnock handed down the sentence. Following his jail time, Grob will be banned from driving for eight years.
At the start of Friday’s hearing, Whonnock said how the provided victim impact statements by Moore’s family played an important role in the sentencing process.
“The loss of Mr. Spencer Moore, as a family member and friend, is immeasurable. It is clear to the court that Mr. Moore was deeply loved and is greatly missed,” she said.
“No matter what sentence I may order, a sentence can do nothing to bring back the victim of this tragedy. The sentence today should not be considered a value on Mr. Moore’s life, which everybody would agree, is priceless.”
Before rendering her sentence, the judge listed several aggravating factors that were considered throughout the four-part hearing.
Grob’s high speed during the incident, which he admitted ranged between 84 km/h to 94 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, and the steps he took to avoid detection and prosecution were deeply concerning to the court.
His multiple driving offences, both before and after the fatality, the fact he used cocaine on the night of the fatality, the fact he had been warned by others not to drive that night due to his high level of intoxication, and his risk to re-offend, were also aggravating factors Whonnock listed.
“These actions are very troubling to me,” she said. “I have not seen a similar case with such aggravated elements that matches the deceitful acts of concealment of Mr. Grob.”
The continued driving infractions, Whonnock said, “calls to question whether or not Grob took the privilege of driving seriously.”
“Driving while impaired is a reprehensible criminal act and has caused countless fatalities across Canada. Driving intoxicated is reckless and dangerous and puts the public at risk,” she said.
Although a guilty plea came months after the incident and was only offered after multiple acts to deceive police, it still spared the Moore family the trauma of having to sit through a contested trial, something Whonnock considered as a mitigating factor.
In court, the judge said she believed his apology and remorse were genuine, as were his efforts to receive counselling for alcohol and drug treatment, noting that Grob attended 20 to 25 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings since the incident.
After the final hearing, Jessica Wallis-Moore, Spencer’s common-law sister-in-law, said she had hoped Whonnock would “set a bar” with her earlier statement of considering a longer sentence than the suggested six-year jail sentence by Crown counsel.
“That didn’t happen today,” she said. “As Brandon (Moore’s brother) said, it will never bring Spencer back, but it’s something. Judge Whonnock’s decision for six years, we appreciate it. We appreciate her words in the courtroom. We appreciate her time and attention to this, to Spencer’s life. Eight years would have been better. After this, I’ll be advocating.”
Reportedly in the vehicle with Grob during the fatal hit-and-run was Travis Zackery Taylor, who is scheduled for his own sentencing hearing on Sept. 30 for willfully attempting to obstruct, pervert, or defeat the course of justice.