A 73-year-old Chilliwack woman is heading to jail after sentencing came down in a fatal hit-and-run case that dragged on for years.
Judge Brenda Brown sentenced Linnea Louise Labbee to two years less a day in jail, with two years probation in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack Wednesday.
“This was a very serious offence,” Justice Brown said, noting that Labbee left the scene of the 2016 accident in order to escape liability and responsibility, which she called “reckless.”
Labbee was convicted on April 12, 2021 of one count of failing to stop at the scene of an accident that led to the death of 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian.
There were “many aggravating circumstances” in the case, but no mitigating ones, the judge said.
The most significiant aggravating factor the judge said was the “elaborate, false alibi” that Labbee concocted, which “prolonged and complicated” the police investigation.
Labbee alleged that someone had stolen her truck, and was responsible for the hit-and-run. The alibi was found to have included lying, blaming others, forging documents and making serious allegations against police officers.
An additional aggravating circumstance was that Labbee had been driving without a driver’s licence.
Firoozian succumbed to her injuries on Mary Street after she was struck by Labbee’s full-size pickup truck while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk on Dec. 1, 2016. Firoozian was mourned by the community following her death, and remembered at a candlelight vigil attended by 100 people as an extraordinarily kind and giving person. A roadside memorial with photographs and flowers was set up at the corner of Mary Street and Patten Avenue.
Firoozian’s son Riaz Bassari was present at the courthouse for the sentencing, as he had been for much of the trial.
“It was a long time coming,” Bassari said. “It’s good to finally have closure.”
Although a conditional sentence, or house arrest, was legally available, it was not viewed as “appropriate” in this case, according to the sentencing report, which Justice Brown said she agreed with.
Crown counsel Joe Saulnier had asked for a sentence of two years jail time, which he described as being in the “top of the range” for offences of this type.
The conviction last spring capped off a trial in Chilliwack in which Labbee had no lawyer, and defended herself.
The judge said she took the age and health of the offender into consideration in sentencing her to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge. Judge Brown noted there was no specific health condition that prevented her from going to jail, and she would receive medical care there for any health issues she has.
Ancillary orders from the judge included no-contact orders for several witnesses who said they’d been bullied by Labbee, as well as the intent to seek a DNA sample from Labbee, and a four-year driving prohibition.
Right up to the end there were attempts to delay proceedings.
After Judge Brown left the courtroom after imposing the sentence, Labbee piped up: “Can you get her back? I have to talk to the judge.”
But she was told no, and sheriffs escorted Labbee from the courtroom in a wheelchair.
—with files from Paul Henderson
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