Driver no-show for sentencing
Margaret Snowball was shaking with emotion.
She had come almost 15,000 kilometres to face the man who had killed her daughter with his vehicle in a New Westminster crosswalk and he wasn’t there.
Ryan Follack was scheduled to appear for a pre-sentence report in New Westminster provincial court Friday. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest when he didn’t show.
Earlier this year, Follack pled guilty to two charges in connection with the incident. Gemma Snowball was 25 when she was struck by a vehicle while in a crosswalk at Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street late in the evening of March 11, 2013. She was headed home after finishing her shift at the Royal City Centre Safeway delicatessen.
The popular native of Perth, Australia, died a few days later at Royal Columbian Hospital.
It took until February 2014 before Crown counsel approved charges of driving without due care and driving without reasonable consideration. Follack pled guilty in April and a date for a pre-sentence report was set at that time for Friday (Aug. 8).
Crown counsel Lionel Yip told provincial court judge Therese Alexander he contacted Follack by phone Friday morning and he was in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Yip said Follack told him he thought his court date was Aug. 18 and had a plane ticket to return Aug. 10. But Yip produced documents Follack signed that stated the pre-sentence report was scheduled for Aug. 8.
Alexander instantly agreed to Yip’s motion to issue a bench warrant for Follack’s arrest.
Alexander pronounced the matter was a priority, especially considering Snowball’s mother and sister, Hannah, had flown from Australia for the court appearance.
“I’d like to move mountains to get this done,” said Alexander.
The justice appeared concerned because the pre-sentence report indicated Follack would be starting law school in Leicester, England in September.
Margaret Snowball (centre), mother of Gemma Snowball, a pedestrian killed in an accident at Sixth and Sixth in New Westminster in March 2013, and Gemma's sister Hannah, talk to a representative of victim services outside the provincial courthouse Friday, Aug. 8. They had flown from Perth, Australia for the pre-sentence report of the driver who had pled guilty but he didn't show. Grant Granger/NewsLeader
Margaret trembled as she talked outside the courtroom about how upset she was. She and Hannah had come a long way and had prepared themselves for the emotional meeting they were denied.
“Beyond words it is. I was totally devastated,” said Margaret. “We had got ourselves together ready to face this person.”
Yip also told the court Follack received a three-day roadside suspension two months after the accident.
“What sort of person, when you already know you killed a person, would go out drinking and drive a vehicle,” said Margaret. “It just shows he hasn’t any thought or feeling for anyone.”
Margaret and Hannah arrived a week before the scheduled appearance to visit many of the places Gemma loved in Canada that had inspired her to move here. They had plans to see more of those places this week before flying home this Friday.
“Now we’re having to put all our plans on hold,” said Margaret, who was supported by eight Canadian friends and co-workers of Gemma.
This isn’t the first time Follack has been a no show. Court records also indicate he did not appear March 20 of this year for a traffic violation in Vancouver court he was disputing. He was charged with knowingly making a false or misleading statement. The offence occurred Dec. 18, 2012. The court ruled the charge was “deemed to be not disputed” because he had not shown.
Follack’s LinkedIn resume says he is a production tester for FMC Technologies in the oil and energy industries. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and the B.C. Institute of Technology.
It also said he will be attending law school in September.
Follack appeared in court Monday (Aug. 11). The pre-sentence report was then rescheduled for Tuesday morning.