A Winnipeg woman says her life has been forever changed by an act of road rage that a court heard was so dangerous it has virtually no precedent.
"This was no car accident," Kiana Jobo said at a sentencing hearing Thursday for 59-year-old Dale Harper. "This was an intentional and terrorizing act of violence."
Jobo, 27, said she feared she and her father, Jomar Jobo, were going to die. Harper had repeatedly rammed her vehicle during a 10-minute pursuit that ended when she fled to the RCMP detachment on Portage Avenue.
"I felt like one wrong turn and that’s it," Jobo said during a lengthy, tear-filled address to the court. "The further and further I tried to go, the terror followed."
Harper has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a weapon and one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
A cellphone video Jomar Jobo recorded during the chase went viral and made headlines around the world. Within days of the incident, the video was posted on the Los Angeles-based tabloid website TMZ.
Court was told Jobo was driving her Hyundai Elantra as she ran errands with her father on the afternoon of Dec. 17, 2020, including making funeral arrangements for her grandparents. She turned from Sargent Avenue onto Milt Stegall Drive, cutting off a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Harper.
Harper chased Jobo onto Milt Stegall Drive and rammed her car three times in rapid succession.
"This guy is trying to kill us!" Jomar Jobo can be heard saying on the cellphone video. On the same video, Kiana implores a friend in another car to follow her as Harper continues the chase.
Jobo fled to Portage Avenue, where Harper continued to ram her vehicle, at one point pushing it into another car stopped at a red light, causing her to spin into the median.
Jobo raced eastbound on Portage Avenue in the westbound lane until she reached the RCMP detachment, by which point Harper had abandoned the chase.
City police, alerted to the chase, caught up with Harper as he pulled in front of a house on Minto Avenue. "I lost my temper, I never did that before," court was told Harper told police.
"I don’t engage in a lot of hyperbole in this job… however I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this," Crown attorney Paul Cooper told provincial court Judge Lee-Anne Martin. "My long and ultimately fruitless search of case law across the country reveals nothing like this comes even close."
Nearly all road-rage incidents culminate in a physical altercation between motorists who have exited their cars, Cooper said.
"It never, ever leads to a person deciding to use their vehicle as a battering ram, not once , not twice but repeatedly over a ten-minute time frame and three-kilometre distance," he said. "It’s frankly incomprehensible…. If it had happened once and stopped, it would still be absolutely heinous, but that is not what happened here."
“I felt like one wrong turn and that’s it. The further and further I tried to go, the terror followed.” – Kiana Jobo
Cooper urged Martin to sentence Harper to three years in prison, arguing only a lengthy period in custody can ensure he never does it again.
Harper "has demonstrated he can’t be trusted behind the wheel of a vehicle if a perceived slight leads to something like this," Cooper said. "He can’t walk away from this without a consequence of extreme significance."
Defence lawyer Pam Smith recommended Martin sentence Harper to nine months in jail, calling him "a good person who did a bad thing."
Harper has no criminal record, not even a speeding ticket, court was told, and could offer no explanation for his actions.
“Every day, at about 2 a.m., I wake up and that is the first thing in my head. I don’t have the answer.” – Dale Harper
"Every day, at about 2 a.m., I wake up and that is the first thing in my head," he said. "I don’t have the answer."
Harper apologized to Kiana Jobo, saying his actions made the grief of losing her grandparents only worse.
"I am terribly sorry," he said. "It was a harm I invoked. If I could take it all back, I would."
Harper said he hasn’t driven since his arrest.
Martin reserved her decision and will sentence Harper at a later date.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.