A Pembroke, Ont., dentist "has excellent prospects for rehabilitation" if she never drinks again, a judge ruled Thursday as he sentenced her to five years in prison for impaired and dangerous driving that caused the death of an Ottawa father in March 2011.
Dr. Christy Natsis was convicted in May — more than four years after the March 31, 2011 crash on Highway 17 near Arnprior that killed 50-year-old Bryan Casey.
After a lenghty trial that started in November 2012, Justice Neil Kozloff ruled Natsis was impaired by alcohol when the SUV she was driving crossed the centre line of the highway and collided head-on with Casey's pickup truck.
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Casey left behind his wife, LeeEllen Carroll, and their three children, who were seven, nine and 11 years old at the time.
In a statement to reporters outside the courthouse Thursday, Carroll said she hopes the sentence "serves to prevent tragedies like this from shattering the lives of others."
"None of us will ever understand why the crash had to happen," she said.
"I continue to do everything within my sphere of influence to ensure our children have the future they would have had, had their father not been stolen from them. I do not wish to be consumed by bitterness nor anger. We wish no further harm to the offender. I hope and pray our children can find peace."
Natsis 'unlikely to reoffend' if sober
In addition to the five-year sentence, Natsis will also serve an additional 40 days for breaching her release conditions when she bought two bottles of vodka in the months following the crash.
Kozloff ruled that her breach did not show a lack of remorse, but rather an "ongoing dependence on alcohol."
Natsis — a wife and mother of two daughters who has been a mentor and leader in Pembroke — is "of otherwise good character," Kozloff noted in his 16-page decision.
"It bears repeating that no sentence that I impose can undo the tragic consequences of this collision or compensate for the loss of the life of Bryan Casey," he wrote.
Natsis also faces a four-year driving ban that starts now, not after her sentence is complete.
Natsis addressed the court for the first time during a sentencing hearing last month, saying she feels "great shame, regret, remorse," and would change what happened that night if she could.
The Crown had argued for a six- to eight-year prison sentence with a 10-year driving ban and an order to submit DNA. The defence had asked for between three-and-a-half and four years.