Ontario mom calls courtroom statement ‘slap in the face’ to her dying son

The mother of a teenage boy who was horrifically injured in a hit-and-run crash just weeks before his 18th birthday believes her son, now almost 23, is just “holding on for this trial.”

ontario mom calls courtroom statement ‘slap in the face’ to her dying son

Abby Roby shared her thoughts outside court in London, Ont., on Tuesday after the defence made additional submissions and sentencing for Jesse Bleck, 30, was scheduled for mid-June. She says her son Tristan is in semi-palliative care.

“I hope he’s still here on June 18th.… At least give him the dignity of hearing the sentence.”

Bleck was found guilty last August of driving while prohibited and failing to remain at the scene of a collision causing bodily harm in connection with the July 21, 2019 crash.

Roby, who was out cycling with a friend on Exeter Road near Wonderland Road, was struck from behind by a vehicle.

He spent his 18th birthday lying in a hospital bed with a traumatic brain injury, a fractured leg, bruised lungs, a broken jaw, and several abrasions and contusions. He returned home in October 2019 but was left with life-altering injuries, unable to walk or talk.

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London police announced charges against Bleck in January 2020, nearly six months after the hit and run.

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On Tuesday, Bleck’s counsel argued that he should face no more jail time and that the Crown is asking for too harsh a sentence considering Bleck was found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident and not anything to do with his actual driving ability.

The defence pointed to similar cases in Canada with sentences of around six to 18 months in jail. Bleck has already served roughly nine months of pre-trial custody, the defence said.

However, the Crown argued that Bleck was a prohibited driver at the time of the crash and that while the defence is trying to say it wasn’t a matter of good or bad driving, Bleck shouldn’t have been driving at all due to a court order. The Crown also said one of the cases the defence pointed to that was similar to Bleck’s involved a driver who was suspended, not prohibited.

The defence also pointed to Bleck’s personal life: that he has three children to support, that his father died when he was young and that he recently lost a brother.

A statement was also read into court on Bleck’s behalf, dated Feb. 1, in which he apologized for the impact but maintained his innocence. In the letter, he said he’s trying to do all that he can for his children and that a jail sentence would make that impossible.

Outside court, Abby Roby said Bleck is a coward.

“For him — after five years and Tristan being in the state that he’s in — to say that he’s sorry that (Tristan’s) life has been altered, but that he’s innocent? That was a slap in the face to Tristan,” she said.

“This would all be over if he had just done the right thing in the beginning.”

— with files from Global News’ Ben Harrietha and Amy Simon

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