Sentencing hearing underway for woman who hit 11-year-old girl in Saanich crosswalk

Sentencing hearing underway for woman who hit 11-year-old girl in Saanich crosswalk
Photo courtesy GoFundMe/Little Leila Bui.
Leila Bui was hit in a Saanich crosswalk in December 2017.

Details in this story may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised. 

A sentencing hearing is underway for Tenessa Nikirk.

In January of this year, she was found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm after hitting an 11-year-old girl in December of 2017, leaving her severely brain-damaged.

Leila Bui was 11-years old when she was walking in a Saanich crosswalk on Torquay Drive and Ash Road when Nikirk struck her with her Mercedes SUV, throwing the girl 26 meters.

In Monday’s hearing, Crown prosecutors say Nikirk should spend between two to three years in prison, and be banned from driving for at least 5 years.

Nikirk’s lawyer recommended a 90-day intermittent sentence instead, that she can serve on weekends.

The prosecution stated in court during the hearing that the gravity of the offence needs to be taken into account, saying Nikirk was driving more than a hundred kilometres an hour in a 50 km/hour zone, and had sent 18 text messages in the 24 minutes before striking Leila.

Dashcam footage along Ash Road, used in court during the trial in 2019, shows Nikirk driving just moments before hitting Leila. Nikirk crossed the yellow line, passing two cars at once.

Although Nikrik does not have a criminal record, the Crown entered evidence proving she had three speeding tickets in Saskatchewan prior to the incident.

The prosecution also brought up her driving record from B.C., which showed Nikirk had received a speeding ticket in B.C. after she hit Leila.

The defence said today Nikirk has faced years of unwanted media attention and threats, and although her distracted driving caused the accident, there are others who text and drive without the same consequences and without years of jail time, and this was almost a case of “bad luck.”

Back in January when the guilty verdict was announced, Leila’s mom Kairry Nguyen said it brought a sense of relief that the trial was over, but that the verdict couldn’t change what had happened to her daughter.

“I know she didn’t intend to get in her car that day and ‘I’m going to go and run over a kid’. It was an accident, but if it was me, I would go to the parents and say, ‘I’m truly sorry,’ You know? But she didn’t,” said

Nikrik’s sentencing was originally set for April but was delayed because of COVID-19.

Now, Leila’s family has to wait a little longer for the sentence, as the judge deliberates. Leila’s parents, Kairry and Tuan Bui, have said they’d rather have an apology from Nikirk than jail time, but they have yet to be given one.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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