A man with a lengthy criminal record was allowed to leave Canada four months after causing the death of Richmond woman Christy Mahy.
Richmond Provincial Court heard on Monday morning how Albanian native Erjon Kashari withdrew his refugee claim with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), a month after his dangerous driving killed cyclist Mahy, 36, in July 2014.
In November 2014 – three months after Kashari voluntarily withdrew his pending refugee status – CBSA paid for a flight back to Albania for Kashari who by then had no status in Canada.
At the time, Kashari was alleged to have caused Mahy’s death by losing control of his Pontiac SUV and plowing into her as she stood at the intersection sidewalk of Russ Baker Way and the Dinsmore Bridge, waiting for the lights to change.
The court heard Monday that Kashari - who was in Canada on a work permit at the time of the accident – wasn’t asked any questions by the CBSA as to why he was withdrawing his refugee claim.
However, his defence lawyer said, during the three months Kashari was waiting to leave Canada, an officer from the CBSA did enquire with Richmond RCMP if “there were any concerns” about him leaving the country.
“The CBSA never heard back from the RCMP until long after Mr. Kashari had left Canada,” added the lawyer.
Earlier on Monday, Kashari – who was finally extradited from Albania to Canada in the summer of 2020 to face the charge - pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of Mahy.
Crown counsel Megan Dyler also told Judge Patrick Chen how Kashari had seven previous convictions in three countries, Albania, the U.K. and Norway.
These convictions dated back to between 2002 and 2016 and included two assaults, theft, fraud, domestic violence and driving-related offences.
Notwithstanding the extradition process, Judge Chen questioned the delay over the charges being laid.
Dyler cited the time it was taking for an accident reconstruction investigation to be finalized.
The court heard from witnesses how Kashari had been driving recklessly and at excessive speeds over the No. 2 Road Bridge and on Russ Baker Way, seconds before the fatal crash.
Accident analysis indicated that Kashari was driving between 80 and 100 kilometres an hour when he had to break and swerve to avoid traffic in front of him that had either stopped or slowed for a yellow or red light at Russ Baker Way and the Dinsmore Bridge.
It was then that he lost control, went over a median and struck Mahy, who was either sitting on her bike or standing with it on the sidewalk.
Kashari attempted to blame his OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) on his loss of control, claiming he has to check his rear view mirror five times when changing lanes.
He also claimed the cars in front slowed for no apparent reason and said a bolt in his tire, which he had repairs on earlier that day, had caused his tire to blow.
Family and friends of Mahy are expected to give their victim impact statements later on Monday.
And on Tuesday, Kashari is scheduled to be sentenced, with the Crown asking for two and half to three years. Defence is asking for two years.
There is a debate over whether Kashari should be credited for the time served behind bars in Albania, while awaiting extradition to Canada.
Family and friends of Mahy – some of whom wanted to attend multiple court appearances and took time off work and arranged childcare to do so - have expressed their frustration and disgust at the number of deferrals in court.
It took five years to charge him, in his absence, with causing Mahy’s death.
Mahy’s father, Ron, fought long and hard to get answers from the authorities and ultimately bring the driver accused of causing his daughter’s death back to Canada to face the charges.