Driver who killed Nanaimo woman sentenced to 6 years in prison

Driver who killed Nanaimo woman sentenced to 6 years in prison

WATCH: A Nanaimo man has been sentenced to six years in prison for a crime that the Justice who heard the case called “utterly deplorable” and “callous and inhumane.” Heidi Plato died when the pickup she was in was struck by a man who court heard had been driving dangerously and also fled the scene.

Heidi Plato was cheerful, yet shy and pushed herself to be fearless.

“She just was gaining more confidence in her life as she got older,” said her longtime partner Pete Vizvari.

“And she lit up a room when she came in.”

Plato died in November 2015 while she was out getting groceries on Yellow Point Road outside Nanaimo. Her pickup truck was hit by another truck driven by Dustin Zinter.

“She just went to the grocery store to get some groceries and didn’t come home,” said Vizvari.

Court heard that Dustin Zinter had been drinking that night. He had a record of impaired driving and drug abuse and his truck collided head-on with Plato’s when he veered into her lane.

Then Zinter left the scene and refused a breathalyzer when RCMP caught up with him.

The 41-year-old maintained throughout the court process that he wasn’t to blame and not until being convicted and sentenced did he even say he was sorry.

Justice Robin Baird convicted Zinter and in sentencing him Friday handed him six years in prison.

“This catastrophe was entirely avoidable,” said Baird.

Baird said Zinter’s disregard for other motorists “was utterly deplorable” and leaving the scene “was callous and inhumane.”

Then Baird added “I have rarely encountered a person so epically dishonest.”

“The judge called him a coward,” said the victim’s friend Titia Jetten.

“A judge calls you a coward and calls you inhumane. I think that is something.”

The six-year prison sentence is what the Crown had been asking for.

“The sentences are going to keep getting higher for this type of thing,” said Crown Prosecutor Nick Barber.

“And people better take it seriously. Motor vehicle collisions kill more people than almost anything else.”

Zinter’s defence insisted he really is sorry.

“It wasn’t evident to his lordship,” said Zinter’s Defense Counsel William Heflin.

“And that’s too bad but I think he really is terribly sorry about this tragic event.”

The victim’s common-law husband of 30 years, Pete Vizvari hopes so and plans to continue to honour Heidi by playing the music they enjoyed so much together.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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