Alberta man who tried to pin deadly crash on late girlfriend gets 6 1/2 years in prison

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An Alberta man who tried to blame his girlfriend for the high-speed crash that claimed her life has been sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.

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Dean Mitchell Black was convicted in May of criminal negligence for his role in the 2017 death of 36-year-old Trisha Jabs, who died when Black’s BMW flew off a two-lane highway near Tomahawk.

Black’s trial heard he had been drinking and that the vehicle was travelling as fast as 240 km/h moments before the crash.

Black survived and staggered to a nearby farmhouse, where he claimed Jabs had been driving the vehicle. He was charged with her death in 2019 after a lengthy police investigation.

Justice Shaina Leonard concluded Black was in fact the driver of the vehicle after a trial that concluded May 20. She convicted him of five offences in total, including criminal negligence causing death, breaching conditions, and three counts of disobeying a court order.

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On Friday, Leonard heard victim impact statements from Jabs’ loved ones, including her two teenage daughters.

“He took all of our tomorrows with her,” said Rayne Rumsey, Jabs’ 18-year-old daughter. “Our mom will never share in any of the moments in our lives when girls need their moms the most.”

Trisha Jabs was killed Aug. 24, 2017, when the vehicle in which she was a passenger crashed on Highway 759 near Tomahawk, Alta. Dean Mitchell Black, Jabs’ partner, was convicted on May 20, 2021, of criminal negligence causing death. Image supplied.
Trisha Jabs was killed Aug. 24, 2017, when the vehicle in which she was a passenger crashed on Highway 759 near Tomahawk, Alta. Dean Mitchell Black, Jabs’ partner, was convicted on May 20, 2021, of criminal negligence causing death. Image supplied. jpg

Jabs and Black were in a relationship and had two sons together, aged seven and eight. At the time of the crash, however, Black was under a court order to have no contact with her. In the hours before the crash, the two had been at Jabs’ home. They left around midnight to buy alcohol in Tomahawk, a hamlet 100 km west of Edmonton.

About 3 1/2 kilometres from Jabs’ home, Black’s BMW left the highway and cartwheeled into a stand of trees. Jabs was thrown 20-30 metres from the vehicle’s sunroof, killing her instantly.

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Black dragged himself to the home of Donald and Marcia Webb, who awoke to him screaming, covered in blood and smelling “like a brewery.” He repeatedly stated that his girlfriend had been driving and that she did not know how to operate a stick shift.

The Crown, represented by Phil LeFeuvre and Aaron Rankin, argued that Black’s claims about Jabs being behind the wheel were self-serving attempts to evade responsibility.

They argued the physical evidence at the scene proved Black had been driving. A pair of men’s boots were wedged beneath the gas and brake pedals, and the injuries Black suffered were to the left side of his body, suggesting he had been in the driver’s seat.

During a sentencing hearing last week, the Crown recommended nine years in prison, while the defence asked for 4 1/2.

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Trisha Jabs was killed Aug. 24, 2017, when she was thrown from Dean Black’s speeding BMW outside Tomahawk, Alta. Black was convicted of five counts including criminal negligence causing death on May 20, 2021.
Trisha Jabs was killed Aug. 24, 2017, when she was thrown from Dean Black’s speeding BMW outside Tomahawk, Alta. Black was convicted of five counts including criminal negligence causing death on May 20, 2021. Supplied

In a victim impact statement, Jabs younger sister told Black that at times he had been a good partner and father.

“But you blew it,” Taylor Jabs said. “You threw away every chance of giving those sweet, perfect boys a normal life with a loving mother and father in a happy home.”

“Deep down, I know you have a heart, and I hope that the consequences (of) your actions eat at your soul for the rest of your life.”

She added about her sister, “She was so happy, with a zest for life. She wanted to live, (striving) to be the best mom she could. She was always changing, improving and getting it all together.”

With credit for time in pre-trial custody, Black has just over five years left on his sentence. He is also banned from driving for six years.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

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