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Brian King sentenced to just over three years for death of Hannah Thorne

Brian Robert King, 32, appeared in Harbour Grace provincial court for the decision on his matter.
Brian Robert King, 32, appeared in Harbour Grace provincial court for the decision on his matter. - Chris Lewis

Victim’s mother speaks on decision

HARBOUR GRACE, NL — Brian Robert King is facing just over three years in prison.

The 32-year-old was sentenced to 40 months, with six months and five days shaved off the original sentence of 46 months for a drag racing accident along the New Harbour Barrens, which resulted in the death of 18-year-old Hannah Thorne. The incident happened July 7, 2016.

King appeared in the Harbour Grace provincial courthouse Tuesday morning, as did family and friends of Thorne, including her mother and father, Gail and Levi.

During the matter, Judge Bruce Short re-read part of the statement of facts provided to the court during a previous appearance, noting specifically the speed at which King and co-accused Steven Mercer were travelling down route 73 prior to the fatal head-on collision with Thorne’s vehicle, driven by Hannah’s grandmother, Gertrude Thorne.

King and Mercer’s drag race lasted approximately 10-kilometres, reaching speeds of 160 km/h in the 80 km/h zone, passing multiple vehicles and experiencing several near misses with others in the oncoming lane of traffic.

Crown prosecutor Richard Deveau originally suggested a sentence of 42-48 months in prison, as well as a 10-year driving prohibition. Defence lawyer Catherine Boyde, however, suggested a two- to three-year sentence, noting King’s short criminal record, healthy family relationships and reasonable future prospects in support of her position. It was also noted that since the incident, King has expressed significant anxiety and remorse.

However, Short’s ultimate decision landed King with a sentence of just over three years, totalling 40 months incarceration, followed by an eight-year driving prohibition.

“Several victim impact statements were filed by those close to Hannah Thorne,” said Short during his decision. “It’s fair to say that they all reflect a profound sense of loss for a young woman who had a whole future ahead of her, and was seen as a beautiful person, a loving daughter and sister, and a best friend to many. Her loss is quite simply a senseless, horrible tragedy.”

Short also noted that while King had entered guilty pleas, the plea came relatively late into the matter, adding that King had been uncooperative during initial investigations. King and Mercer, who entered not guilty pleas in NL Supreme Court last month, were arrested in the fall of 2016.

Following Short’s decision, Gail and Levi spoke with reporters, stating they were just happy it was over.

“There’s never, never going to be enough time to justify what he’s done to Hannah, and Gertie, and everyone else,” said Gail through tear-filled eyes. “Our lives will never be the same without Hannah.”

Hannah’s mother went on to explain that she and other members of the family had been at the Harbour Grace courthouse on 22 different occasions for King’s matter. She said the support they’ve received from friends, as well as members of the community, helped tremendously, but added that it never truly got easier to deal with.

“Unless you go through it yourself, no one really knows how it feels,” she said. “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, to lose a child. Sometimes, it still doesn’t even feel real.”

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