Egregious conduct puts drunk driver in jail

An Ontario court judge said a 43-year-old Hamilton man “shook the consciousness of the community” when he drunkenly drove his  vehicle onto a busy Port Dover beach last year.Justice Gethin Edward sentenced Yourem Mako to 90 days in jail, which he will be permitted to serve on weekends so he can hold down his full-time job.Mako was severely intoxicated last Aug. 4, his birthday, when his actions were captured on video.“People saw how close innocents were to injury and even death,” said Justice Gethin Edward. “It was horrible.”The judge watched a video, captured and posted on social media, that showed  Mako’s blue van mounting a curb at the beach and driving steadily toward the packed beach despite screams from onlookers.One man rushed his child out of the way and tried to stand in front of Mako’s van. Those on the beach opened the driver’s door and pulled out and restrained Mako out.People reported seeing open and empty bottles in the vehicle and said said Mako was screaming threats.“For the most part, impaireds happen at night,” said Edward. “But, here, the community bore witness to Mr. Mako’s conduct at 11:37 a.m. on a crowded beach and then the greater community bore witness when the cellphone video went viral.”Assistant Crown attorney Lynette Fritzley asked for a 90-day sentence.“His pre-sentence report shows a man not willing to take responsibility for his actions and is blaming his ex-wife,” Fritzley told the judge.“You could see from that video, nobody pulled his ex-wife out of that car as he plowed through the beach on a busy day. His ex-wife didn’t pour alcohol down his throat and tie him into that car. He made those choices to put everybody on that beach at risk that day.”Defence lawyer Adam O’Brodovich said his client, who was born in Iraq, was misunderstood by the author of the report.“It’s unfair. His drinking did occur from the breakdown in the relationship (with his wife) but he’s not saying he drank on that day because his ex-wife magically made him do this. He’s taking full responsibility.”O’Brodovich said, since the incident, Mako, who previously had a clean driving record, has been “bone-dry sober”.Without a licence, Mako’s been travelling six hours a day to get to and from work to keep his job and maintain his child-support payments.“He’s clearly taking it seriously.”While many first-time drunk drivers get a driving prohibition and finesof $1,000 to $2,000, the defence lawyer asked the judge to consider a sentence of 10 days of time served plus another 30 days of weekend jail. O’Brodovich also presented letters of support from Mako’s siblings, with whom he’s been residing, co-workers and employer.“It was a terrible thing that happened and, yes, people were put in danger. I’m not minimizing that. He was depressed, turned to drinking and made some very poor decisions. But he got his drinking under control.”Mako offered a short apology to the judge.Edward said that Mako’s “egregious conduct’ calls for a 90-day sentence.He said the man’s blood-alcohol readings were extremely high, the number of potential victims, including children, was high and and the video was upsetting to the thousands who viewed it.Edward credited the time Mako had already served toward a breach of probation, which had to do with a charge of having a dangerous weapon in a domestic dispute some time ago.Mako’s 18-month probation period will mean no driving, except for the forklift at his job. He also is prohibited from consuming alcohol or drugs. And he is banned from Port Dover.“Mr. Mako, there are redeeming qualities in all people but many who observed how you drove on that beach might believe you have no redeeming qualities,” said the judge. “To your credit, you are spending six hours a day going to and from work to support your family.“That’s something you should be proud of and use that motivation to remain sober and do the right things in life. I trust this was a one-off and it’s not going to happen again.”SGamble@postmedia.com@EXPSGamble

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