'I will never forgive myself': Woman at centre of London, Ont. explosion speaks at sentencing
LONDON, ONT -- A Kitchener, Ont. woman who smashed into a home causing the Woodman Avenue explosion in Aug. 2019 apologized tearfully at her sentencing hearing on Thursday.
Daniella Leis cried as she told the victims and the court via Zoom, “I can’t express how truly sorry I am for what I have done...for that I will never forgive myself.”
She added, "I feel terrible for causing such significant damage...and I will never stop feeling sorry for my actions.”
Before Leis spoke, four victim impact statements were read, all from those who lived along Woodman Avenue.
Hailey Gray, who tried to pull Leis from her car on the night of the crash, told the court she is in therapy, adding “I now live in a constant state of anxiety...some days I just feel I’m going through the motions.”
Emma Fisher was 12 at the time her home exploded. She said, “It really made my sense of security fragile.”
Her mother Karen turned to Leis and said, “Daniella I hope you never have to experience such a tragic loss at the hands of another person.”
Laura Earle said, “We were in shock for weeks,” adding, “We were standing on the sidewalk and remember Karen (Fisher) screaming at the top of her lungs, it is a scream I will never forget.”
In Oct. 2020, Leis, 24, pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in relation to the explosion.
The court has heard that she had been drinking while at a concert at Budweiser Gardens on the night in question and was asked to leave by security.
She got into her father’s car and drove the wrong way down Queens Avenue before crashing into a home's gas meter, which set off a chain reaction that led to the explosions.
Several homes were destroyed by the blasts and a number of people, including emergency rescue workers, were injured.
Crown Attorney Jason Miller is asking Justice George Orsini that Leis receive a three-year prison sentence.
Richard Braiden, the defence lawyer for Leis, is asking for a jail sentence in the upper reformatory or low penitentiary range, meaning around two years.
Sentencing for Leis is scheduled to take place on Feb. 11.