EDITORIAL: System must be given the chance to work

As imperfect as our system is, for it to mean anything it must stand for a principle of justice, rather than a desire for vengeance.

It’s been 2½ years since South Surrey resident Jim Neiss was killed in a head-on collision as he drove to work along 16 Avenue.

Monday, the trial of the man accused of dangerous driving causing death in connection with the horrific collision got underway in Surrey Provincial Court.

Glen Theriault has pleaded not guilty to the charge against him, and there’s no doubt that over the course of this week, the judge will continue to hear many heart-wrenching details of the case.

Tempting as it may be for members of the public to render judgment of their own long before a verdict is pronounced – and many, no doubt, already have – it is paramount that one of the cornerstones of our legal system not be forgotten: innocence until guilt is proven.

Few would argue that there are those who knowingly take advantage of what can appear to be a system that favours offenders; grasping at every straw available until the inevitable – time behind bars – can no longer be avoided.

It does not help that sentences imposed often seem to fall short when compared to the level of harm done. Two years in jail for an act that cuts someone’s life short will never feel like enough to those who have to go on living without their loved one.

But we cannot forget that not everyone before the courts is playing the system. Even though investigation techniques have improved vastly over the course of a century, it is still possible for people to be charged with crimes for which they are not guilty.

Others may have made mistakes – sometimes grievous mistakes – which they will pay for, in some way, for the rest of their lives. In some instances, many of us, if we’re being entirely honest, might say “there but for the grace of God, go I.”

No one would suggest for a moment that the culpability of the accused not be explored, but they are also entitled to a fair hearing and a defense that ensures that any and all extenuating circumstances are known and understood.

As imperfect as our system is, for it to mean anything it must stand for a principle of justice, rather than a desire for vengeance.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey man’s extensive report calls city’s policing claims ‘unsubstantiated garbage’

Surrey’s Richard Landale has taken public engagement to a whole new level

474 Surrey intersections monitored by live-feed cameras

Cameras prove to be useful tool for commuters, ICBC, RCMP

White Rock woman seeks fellow hockey players for BC 55+ Games

Sue Rittinger aiming to put Zone 3 women’s team together in time for September event

Surrey’s Eat the Dishes named finalist in Small Business BC awards

Marissa Bergeron says she ‘jumped for joy’ when she found out

Surrey RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Delta police officer

One officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving another officer is investigated

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

Mud slide prompts evacuation in Burnaby as rain saturates southern B.C.

About 20 metres of a five to six-metre high wall gave way

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Fraser Valley poultry producer’s $130,000 fight with the CFIA earns him a red-tape award

Canadian Federation of Independent Business Paperweight Awards ‘honour’ government over-regulation

B.C. still struggling to control non-resident medical care fraud

Unpaid bills, out-of-province claimants a costly legacy of MSP

Most Read

l -->