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Buggins-Godin gets house arrest
Found not criminally responsible for running over 89-year-old pedestrian

Daniel Campbell
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The woman who pinned an elderly pedestrian underneath her truck last June has been sentenced to six months house arrest, but found not criminally responsible for the accident.

Toni-Lynn Buggins-Godin pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified on Dec. 2. She was charged with careless driving and failing to yield to a pedestrian, but those Motor Vehicle Act charges were withdrawn.

She received her sentence on Dec. 20 in territorial court.

Judge Bernadette Schmaltz said Buggins-Godin may feel "morally" responsible for the accident, but the courts do not find her criminally responsible.

"I don't want the court to be seen as insensitive to (the victim's) injuries," Schmaltz said.

"But if she was not driving while disqualified, this accident would not result in criminal charges."

At the time of the accident, Buggins-Godin was under a two-year driving prohibition, set to end in September 2014.

Schmaltz said Buggins-Godin may have thought the 89-year-old victim waved her on as she attempted to turn left off Franklin Avenue on to 52 Street.

The woman was struck as she crossed the street, pinned and dragged 2.13 metres. Schmaltz said she suffered "significant and extensive" injuries. The woman spent more than two-and-a-half months in hospitals in Edmonton and Yellowknife before recovering enough to be released.

Buggins-Godin, with her husband and newborn child outside the courtroom, apologized to the courts and the victim's family before sentencing.

"I will never risk anything like that again. Ever, ever," Buggins-Godin said, as her lawyer handed her tissues.

Schmaltz counted 73 prior convictions on her record, including three for impaired driving.

"Ms. Buggins-Godin has a horrendous criminal record," Schmaltz said.

"A jail sentence is necessary in this case because of this history."

Schmaltz insisted although house arrest is a milder sentence than straight jail, the courts still consider it a jail sentence.

Buggins-Godin will need to complete 75 hours of community service during her six months of house arrest. She's prohibited from driving for four years, on top of the two-year prohibition she is currently on.

Schmaltz warned Buggins-Godin if she breaches any of the court's conditions, she'll likely find herself back in jail. Although Buggins-Godin has a history of breaching court orders, Schmaltz felt she has changed and would be able to comply.

"I am confident that this is her history," Schmaltz said.

"Her remorse is genuine."

Buggins-Godin was arrested at the scene of the accident on June 27 and spent 10 days in jail. She was then put on strict release conditions to return to her family in Hay River, which she has followed for the past six months.

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