by Tony Blais
The first person charged with manslaughter in an Edmonton traffic fatality was sentenced to six years in prison Friday.
Allan Dean Balay, 49, was also banned from driving for 10 years following his release after pleading guilty to both manslaughter and impaired driving causing death in relation to an Oct. 12, 2014, rollover that killed his girlfriend, Adele James, 43.
Crown prosecutor Kim Goddard told court the case was a "profoundly needless tragedy" where Balay acted in an apparent "drunken pique of anger or resentment" and made the "inexplicable" decision to drive while extremely impaired.
"In doing so, he made a choice, a choice that was not only criminal, but homicidal," said Goddard. "His decision at that point is little different from someone who grabs a knife and drunkenly stabs someone in the chest. Ms. James didn't need to die that day."
According to an agreed statement of facts, Balay and James had gone for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Sherwood Park home of her best friend, Colette Ryland.
Court heard Balay and James drank half a bottle of rye and Balay became intoxicated and was verbally and physically abusive toward Ryland and her young son. The couple was asked to leave and, because they had finished off most of the bottle of rye, Ryland demanded Balay hand over his car keys. Balay refused and the couple drove off in his red 1990 Corvette.
Goddard told court Ryland later called 911 to report an impaired driver and police also received reports of a Corvette speeding west on Yellowhead Trail and veering across the lanes.
Goddard also said it was reported that the sports car had its convertible top half raised, one of its rear tires was flat with sparks coming off the rim and it was being driven in an erratic manner.
About 100 metres west of the Victoria Trail exit, the Corvette hit the north curb, went across a grassy berm and struck the concrete landing under the Victoria Trail overpass, resulting in it flipping and continuing upside down at a high rate of speed.
Court heard the buckled up James was dragged along the concrete and died at the scene. Balay was pinned in the driver's seat and had to be extricated by firefighters.
Police noted a strong odour of alcohol emanating from Balay and later tests revealed he had a blood alcohol level of .257, or more than three times the legal limit.
Court heard police determined the Corvette was still going about 90 km/h even after flipping onto it's roof. The area is usually a 100 km/h zone, but it had been reduced to 80 km/h due to construction.
In emotional victim impact statements, Ryland and members of James family wrote of the "heart wrenching" loss of the mother of two and how her daughters have to grow up without their mom.
"Allan Balay, I want you to know how many lives you have ruined over the selfish decision you made that night," said James's sister, Lorilee. "You were supposed to protect her, not hurt her.?