Sentencing ‘a gift’ to three convicted in deadly accident – The London Free Press



They were given “a gift,” the bereaved parents say.

Now, they hope the three young men, who fled a joy-riding accident that pinned their son under a skid steer at a rural party, make the most of the break a London court gave them when they were spared jail for what became a deadly mistake.

The accident — which happened almost a year and a half ago — has changed the lives of many, as was apparent when Justice Wendy Harris Bentley at the London courthouse Tuesday recounted the grisly details of a tragic night and the subsequent effects of everyone involved.

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As the justice went through the events leading up to the death of 21-year-old Riley Shannon, quiet crying could be heard in the courtroom.

Shannon was described as a loving, caring person by his friends and family. He was working and training to be a paramedic, the court heard.

At the request of a close friend, Amanda Murray, Shannon and his best friend tried to stop three young men from riding a skid steer during her Dorchester house party on March 11, 2017.

Adam Sinden, who was 18 at the time, was driving the small vehicle, akin to a front-end loader that’s commonly used in farm and construction work. His friends Ryan Esler and Trent Weller were riding the vehicle with him.

Shannon, in an attempt stop them, tapped on the cabin of the skid steer as it moved at walking pace. Shannon’s ankle got tangled under the vehicle and he was pulled under, crushing him.

The trio on the vehicle jumped off, went back to the party, grabbed their things and left, the court heard.

A few hours later, after Shannon was pronounced dead at Victoria Hospital, Esler, Weller and Sinden were charged with failing to remain at the scene of an accident as Shannon’s breaths weakened.

Adam Sinden (left) Trent Weller (middle) and Ryan Esler (right rear) leave court in London. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

But as the court heard Tuesday, Sinden, Esler and Weller will not be going to jail. Instead they will be on probation.

“They were given a gift of freedom and they were given a gift of a second chance, which Riley does not have,” said Scott Shannon, Riley’s father, on Tuesday outside of the courthouse. “I think they’re very fortunate to be able to go on and live their life and we hope that they’ll try to make smart decisions, make a contribution to society and to show people that (they) made a mistake, (they’re) going to pay for that in some way or form.”

As the justice read through her decision, she detailed the amount of remorse each of the accused felt, and conveyed how deeply sorry each one is. The fact that they were young, first-time offenders permeated the justice’s words.

“This is a difficult sentencing,” Harris-Bentley said.

She noted they were all co-operative with law enforcement and they pleaded guilty, a sign of remorse and acknowledgement of their “moral wrongdoing.”

At the sentencing of Adam Sinden, 20, Ryan Esler, 19, and Trent Weller, 20, who were involved in an incident last year where a skid steer ran over and killed 21 year old Riley Shannon at a party in Dorchester.

— Shalu Mehta (@ShaluatLFP) July 31, 2018

She said they suffered psychologically and this “regret will be with them for the rest of their lives.”

While the justice noted it was “wrong and callous” to leave Shannon behind, she also said the three were youthful, “barely into adulthood” and are “prime candidates of rehabilitation.”

Esler, who is now 19, and Weller, 20, were sentenced to 12 months’ probation and $200 fines. Each of them has already served about 100 community service hours, which the justice found sufficient.

Sinden, who the justice said was the prime offender, was given three years’ probation and a fine of $2,000.

Scott and Sandra Shannon, parents of Riley Shannon, speak to media outside of the courthouse in London. (Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press)

He will be unable to drive for three years, with the exception of going to places like work, school and medical appointments in the last two years. He will also have to perform an additional 100 community service hours on top of the 136 he has already performed within the first 18 months of his probation.

But nothing will be able to replace the empty seat left at the Shannon family table, Riley Shannon’s parents said.

“No amount of justice, no amount of words will ever bring Riley back,” Scott Shannon said. “We fight with it every day. I’m still emotional, as is everybody that Riley touched.”

Sandra Shannon, Riley’s mother, described him as “happy” and “rambunctious” with “a twinkle in his eye.” She said he tried to make everyone happy.

“We’ll talk about him every day, we’ll say his name every day,” Sandra said, her voice breaking.

Scott said he hopes his son has had an influence on Esler, Weller and Sinden and that “God forbid, (if) something like this ever happens again . . . they will step up and they will do the right thing . . . and they will just be who Riley was.”

Esler, Weller and Sinden did not stop for comments Tuesday as they left the courthouse.

shmehta@postmedia.com

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