Judge gives four-year sentence to Quebec driver who was texting before fatal crash

MONTREAL—A Quebec man convicted of killing another driver and injuring two teenagers while texting at the wheel has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Martin Carrieres, 39, had exchanged more than 30 text messages while driving on a poorly lit road in March 2012.

Noting that campaigns against texting while driving are not sinking in, Quebec court judge Maria Albanese said she wanted her sentence “to send a clear message to the public.”

The accused was found guilty in April 2018 of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He was sentenced on Jan. 14.

Carrieres was driving at night in Quebec’s Laurentians region when his vehicle crossed into the opposing lane and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The other vehicle was driven by a man returning from a hockey practice with his 13-year-old son and his son’s friend.

The other driver died at the scene, and after the crash, a first responder took Carrieres’ cell phone and gave it to police.

An analysis of the cellular data showed that Carrieres exchanged 34 text messages while driving between 9:18 p.m. and 9:58 p.m., which the judge said explains the accident.

“The analysis of the messages shows that the accused reads them as soon as they are received, because he responds quickly,” Albanese said. “In addition, the exchange he has with his spouse is emotional and acrimonious.”

Carrieres initially told his spouse he was going to his mother’s house that night, but she learned that he was in fact meeting a female friend. That put her “in a bad mood” and triggered a string of text messages between Carrieres and the two women, the judge said.

She emphasized that appropriate sentencing is a delicate exercise. In this case, she concluded that the accused repeatedly broke the law by texting at the wheel. He was entirely responsible for the accident, she said, calling his actions “flagrant negligence.”

She did note that Carrieres had no previous criminal record, is well-liked and expressed remorse that she found to be sincere.

“The court is well aware that no matter what sentence is imposed, it will never reflect the pain of the victims,” Albanese said. “The compensation, if there is any, is minimal for them.”