Man killed in 2019 crash ‘loved being a father,’ court hears, as Crown urges 10-year sentence for impaired driving

A prosecutor is urging a Newmarket judge to continue an upward “trend” in sentencing impaired driving causing death cases by imposing a 10-year penitentiary sentence on a young man whose “recklessness” has left a family shattered.

A message of deterrence needs to be sent because impaired driving continues to be a “persistent problem” in York Region, where 1,383 impaired operation charges were laid last year, Crown attorney Greg Elder said, noting that’s about four to five cases a day, which is “quite frankly remarkable.”

On Aug. 18, 2019, Fereidon Hayatibahar, then 19, was a speeding drunk driver who triggered a horrific crash on Yonge Street that killed Peyman Masoomi Fard, 44, and seriously injured his wife, Nazanin Amiri, and their young son, Alireza Masoomi Fard.

“They miraculously survived the accident, but live with the awful memory and injuries every day,” according to a victim impact statement submitted to the court on behalf of the victims’ extended family. “Peyman loved being a father, it was one of his greatest joys in life. Watching his son grow into a young man, without his father has been devastating for us to see.”

Despite having no driver’s licence, Hayatibahar was driving a friend’s mother’s Mercedes more than 100 kilometres an hour over the speed limit with an “incredibly high alcohol blood content, conservatively estimated to be well over double the legal limit,” Elder told Hayatibahar’s sentencing hearing Tuesday.

He lost control of the vehicle and swerved into oncoming traffic and struck a number of vehicles. The driver of a car side-swiped by the Mercedes was also injured.

Masoomi Fard, a mechanical engineer, his wife and son came to Canada from Iran in 2018. His wife has a postgraduate education and was working as a physiotherapist.

Unable to afford the mortgage on the matrimonial home, she was forced to sell it, along with furniture and appliances, “most of them brand new, and move into a small apartment whose rent she could afford,” according to her sister’s victim impact statement.

Hayatibahar also came to Canada from Iran. He’d been in the country just nine months at the time of the crash.

After a protracted trial earlier this year, Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca rejected Hayatibahar’s defence that his passenger was behind the wheel and convicted him of criminal negligence and impaired driving causing death and three counts each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

On Tuesday, the prosecutor drew parallels to the high-profile impaired driving causing death case of Marco Muzzo, who in 2016 received a 10-year prison sentence for killing four members of the Neville-Lake family. He was also prohibited from driving for 12 years.

Elder said while Muzzo killed four people, also in York Region, in some ways Hayatibahar’s conduct was more serious. He is seeking a 20-year driving ban for Hayatibahar.

Muzzo was only going 25 kilometres over the speed limit when he drove through a stop sign. He also didn’t try to duck responsibility and pleaded guilty.

Wearing a sleeveless jean hoodie, Hayatibahar, who is already in custody, sat in the prisoner’s box with a headset listening to the submissions through a Farsi interpreter.

Defence lawyer Boris Bytensky said a penitentiary sentence of between five and six years is a more appropriate range, and that what Elder is asking for is “far outside, almost double the range, that anyone’s ever been sentenced for.” Hayatibahar will likely face deportation after he’s released.

Letters submitted to the court on his behalf show “this was exceptionally out of character,” Bytensky told the judge.

Prefacing his remarks saying he doesn’t condone drinking and driving, Bytensky noted that social science for years has repeatedly shown that stiffer sentences don’t reduce the incidence of impaired driving.

“The only way we’re going to stop it is to increase enforcement by putting a RIDE spot check on every corner,” he said.

The judge said he will sentence Hayatibahar on Sept. 9.

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