Nelson singer Pat Henman was in court with her family on Christmas Eve to learn the final sentence for Shara Bakos

Nelson singer Pat Henman was in court with her family on Christmas Eve to learn the final sentence for Shara Bakos

Henman family questions leniency

Concerns expressed that woman sentenced for impaired driving will re-offend.

The woman who nearly killed Nelsonite Pat Henman and her daughter Maia Vezina in a head-on collision 18 months ago has received a 2½-year prison sentence. And though Henman’s family is relieved that the trial has concluded, her husband Larry Vezina has concerns about the leniency of the sentence and whether or not there’s danger of a repeat offence.

Henman and Vezina were in attendance at the Cranbrook courtroom on Christmas Eve as Shara Bakos received a two-year prison sentence, with an additional six months for driving while prohibited. She pled guilty to those charges on September 8.

Bakos also received an eight-year driving prohibition that started the day the sentence was passed down. The Crown asked that her DNA be taken and kept on record.

The outcome was a disappointment to Larry, who was anticipating a harsher sentence. He noted that Bakos could have received a 10-year sentence, though the prosecution only asked for three and a half years.

“Back on December 8, the judge spoke at length about how (Bakos) got so intoxicated she had 18 tequilas that day, and she was on her way to pick up her two-year old son when she hit Pat and Maia,” Larry said.

“Many people in the bar made it clear she was incapable of walking.”

Larry noted Bakos was one day away from graduating from a court-mandated ICBC course addressing an earlier drunk driving offence when the crash involving his family occurred.

“I almost fell on the floor,” Larry said, describing how he felt when that fact was shared in court. “I found it wild. She said she’s now a completely new woman, doing everything she can.”

But Larry expressed incredulity that this is the case.

The Crown prosecutor, Andrew Mayes of Cranbrook, told them it’s likely Bakos will receive parole within 10 months, once she’s served a third of her sentence.

“The sentence is the sentence. I know Pat and Maia have their own thoughts. My own personal feeling is I’m very concerned that this woman may be free in 10 months. I don’t think a person with an alcohol problem like that can turn themselves around that quickly,” said Larry.

Henman agreed.

“I have no idea what two and a half years are going to do for her…potentially she could be out on parole in 10 months. What does that mean? Is she going to be rehabilitated in 10 months? I have no idea,” she said.

“Larry and I had to take time to process it. We didn’t talk a lot on the way home, because we were both lost in our thoughts. It took us a good 24 hours to get over what happened on Christmas Eve. By Christmas dinner we’d reached that space.”

Henman’s daughter Maia wasn’t in attendance during the sentencing, partially because her health concerns make her uncomfortable during long car trips and also because she felt uneasy driving in icy conditions.

And though she’s pleased the trial is over, primarily she’s thinking about her upcoming ankle reconstruction surgery on January 6. It is only one of her injuries that has required attention in the 18 months since the accident.

“I went to the doctor with my father a little while ago because it was giving me so much pain and it’s messing up my back. The doctor said ‘that’s a mess. We need to make that look like an ankle again.’”

After the surgery Maia will be in a wheelchair for six weeks. Then she’ll begin a 12-week period where she’ll learn how to walk again. During that time she will continue to study English at the University of Calgary.

“I’ve been talking about it with my mom lately, because it was such a crazy thing that happened and now that part of our life is over. I have my off days in Calgary when it feels overwhelming, where I remember everything that happened,” she said

“I’ve been doing good with keeping myself occupied and trying to keep my mind off things. I’ve got lovely scars but I’m doing okay emotionally because it’s coming to an end and we’re moving on. We’ve got a lot of life ahead of us.”