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Court no-show angers familes: legal ploy won't make us forget, dad says

(by Ian Austin, The Province)


Friends and family of two women killed in a hit-and-run were angry and frustrated Monday that the man accused in their deaths did not show his face in provincial court in Port Coquitlam.


Instead, defence lawyer Tony Serka successfully argued that his client, Cory Sater, would be held in custody until an appearance on March 3.


Serka said he needed time to mount a proper defence of his client, who is now scheduled to appear by video conference early next month.

Sater faces nine counts stemming from the crash early Saturday on Lougheed Highway near Pitt River Road in Coquitlam that claimed Charlene Reaveley, a 30-year-old mother of four, and Lorraine Cruz, a 26-year-old nurse.


The four most serious are two counts of impaired driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.


Brian Reaveley, Charlene’s fatherin-law, was angry that he couldn’t come face to face with the man who may be responsible for her death.


“I think the lawyer will drag it out as long as possible,” said Reaveley outside of court.


“Hopefully keep it out of the public’s eye as long as possible so the public will forget.


“But the family will never forget.” Lorraine Cruz’s stepfather, Michael Bennett, said his family is in terrible shape.


“We’re devastated. There’s not too much more to say. She was a beautiful person, we miss her. Her mother, her sister, are totally devastated. I have to look after them.”


As he fought back tears, Bennett also expressed his frustration at a justice system where the suspect didn’t appear in court.


“I’m sure the punishment that comes out this will be a joke,” he said. “That’s the way the justice system works. They’re more concerned about the suspects than the victims.”


Bennett said Lorraine immigrated in 2001 from the Philippines to Vancouver with her mother – who now lives in Montreal.


“She telephoned her mother every day -she brightened her mother’s day,” said Bennett. “She’s absolutely devastated.”


“She was a beautiful person both inside and out,” said Cruz’s older sister Vanessa.


“Our family and friends will always remember her as such a loving and caring person, always full of life and laughter.


“She has such a good heart -always trying to help others.”


Charlene’s neighbour, Joe Digiandomenico, also attended at the courthouse.


“Everybody’s devastated,” he said. “Nobody can come to terms with it.


“I want to see justice, to see this person take responsibility for what he’s done.”


In an interview with The Province, Dr. Joti Samra, a clinical psychologist at Simon Fraser University, tried to give some insight on what might lead someone to flee the scene of such an accident without giving help.


“Assuming that it’s a true accident, the reality is . . . even from the perspective of the person that caused the accident, it can be quite traumatic and cause an acute stress reaction.”


When that happens, the brain can be flooded with information and emotions that cause a person to do something he or she might not normally do.


“The fight or flight response is something we’re exposed to when we are faced with extreme and traumatic events,” said Samra.


“Our body kind of goes into a shock, it doesn’t know what to do.”


Provincial court records indicate a Cory Sater who was born in 1973 pleaded guilty to an assault charge in both 2010 and 2004.


He was sentenced in B.C. Provincial Court in Port Coquitlam to one year of probation and received a suspended sentence on Jan. 16, 2004, relating to an Oct. 3, 2003, assault.


Also in Port Coquitlam court, Sater pleaded guilty on Sept. 10, 2010, to an assault that occurred on Oct. 11, 2009. For that charge he was sentenced to one day in jail and one year probation.

A trust fund has been set up for the Reaveley family at the Royal Bank Branch No. 04320, account No. 5032180.


© The Province 2011



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