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Surrey teen sentenced to house arrest, probation for fatal crash

The last thing Sanjeeve Sharma did for his dad before being killed in a car crash more than two years ago was help him light his new barbecue.

Reading his victim impact statement in court on Monday afternoon, Sanjay Sharma said the final thing he did for his son was also light a fire. But it was for Sanjeeve's cremation.

"I no longer live life," said Sanjay at the sentencing of the teen responsible for his son's death. "I'm just someone who goes through the motions."

Sanjeeve Sharma, 15, was in the back seat of a car driven by a drunken 16-year-old with a learner's licence in June 2009. The driver, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death last November.

Monday afternoon in Surrey Provincial Court, Judge Peder Gulbransen sentenced the teen driver to a six-month deferred custody supervision order (comparable to house arrest), followed by 18 months probation. He is also prohibited from driving for the next three-and-a-half years.

Gulbransen called the case "disturbing" and similar to one the courts see all too often.

"Young men, alcohol and gasoline should not mix," said the judge, acknowledging the Sharma family is living "an enduring nightmare."

It was June 29, 2009 when the accused took his mom's car when she was in the shower and picked up two friends, one of them Sanjeeve Sharma. Crown prosecutor Liane O'Grady said the trio drank vodka outside an elementary school and then got back into the car. The teenage driver was speeding in excesses of 100 km/h through Newton, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating and passing cars, the court heard.

When he tried to pass one vehicle, the car changed lanes and the teen driver overcorrected, lost control, jumped a median and slammed into a lamp standard. While the driver and front seat passenger suffered only minor injuries, Sanjeeve Sharma's injuries were significant. He died later in hospital.

Under B.C. law, someone with an learner's permit must display an "L" on their car, have a supervisor over age 25 in the car with them, have no more than one passenger and have no alcohol in their system. The teen contravened all these conditions, the court heard.

While the teen, clean cut in a dark suit, chose not to speak during his sentencing, in a report read in court he said he loved and missed Sanjeeve and would like to speak to the Sharma family.

The teen's sentence includes a weapons prohibition, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, no alcohol or drugs, and participation in a restorative youth justice program, if the Sharmas are willing to participate.

"You've got to show the world you're not the man you were two years ago," the judge said to the teen.

Outside court, the victim's dad Sanjay Sharma and mom Sara said they have yet to decide whether they'll participate in the restorative justice program.

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