Provincial courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Man sentenced to six years for dangerous driving causing death near Nanaimo

Dustin Dennis Zinter had previously been found guilty after 2015 incident on Yellow Point Road

A man convicted killing a Ladysmith woman in 2015 will spend six years behind bars.

Dustin Dennis Zinter, who was found guilty earlier this year of dangerous driving causing death, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failure to provide a breath sample, was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Robin Baird on Friday, Oct. 12. He also received a five-year driving ban.

Zinter was involved in a head-on collision on Yellow Point Road Nov. 10, 2015, after the Dodge pickup truck he was driving hit a smaller Toyota pickup driven by Heidi Barbara Plato, 51, killing her.

Baird, while handing down the sentence, described the accident as a “horrendous collision” that was “entirely avoidable.” He said Zinter’s inability to remain at the scene was “inhumane.”

Before the sentence was delivered, Zinter addresses the court, apologizing to the family.

“I am sorry. I am sorry,” he said.

However, Baird said Zinter’s apology was “very late” and “weak.”

Speaking to the media afterwards, Nick Barber, Crown counsel, who had sought a six-year sentence, was pleased with the result.

“These kind of offences are more and more common and they need to be taken seriously,” he said.

The total sentencing added up to more than six years, but some of the time will be served concurrently.

Baird found Zinter guilty of all counts on July 23.

During the first day of sentencing Oct. 5, victim impact statements were presented to the court. Pete Vivzari, who was Plato’s partner, called Zinter a coward and then stared him down.

“You’re a coward. You were a coward that night when this happened, when you ran away and hid in the ditch, you were a coward in this courtroom and you’ll always be a coward until you can admit what happened that night,” Vizvari said.

Adrienne Breen said she lost a friend, but the community could have lost anyone that night.

“What a brutal, cruel thing to have to tell our children … We had to tell them Heidi was killed in a preventable accident and we will never see her again,” Breen said. “I hope the root cause of this accident is addressed. The next time you operate a vehicle, I hope you’ll remember our friend Heidi and operate it with care and attention.”

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The trial began on June 18, but Zinter fired his legal counsel, Stephen Taylor, after Barber had presented his case and prior to Taylor presenting Zinter’s defence.

Zinter missed a June 28 court date, and Judge Robin Baird, issued a warrant for his arrest and he was subsequently apprehended later in the day.

Zinter decided to represent himself and refuted all of Barber’s claims, stating Plato had veered into his lane. Zinter said he didn’t drink alcohol before the accident, rather he drank after and was not hiding in a ditch, as had been stated during witness testimony, but rather was sitting down. He denied previous statements he had made related to cellphone usage and said records showing multiple calls to his ex-girlfriend were made due to an auto-dialing phone application.

Zinter also said he didn’t provide a breath sample because he thought he was being asked to provide a blood sample and was being asked too many things at once.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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