People must be kept safe from drunk driver dubbed a dangerous offender: MADD

Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - The Atlantic president for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says a decision on how to keep a Nova Scotia man from harming himself or others needs to be made soon, especially after this week’s latest breach of his parole.

Michael Cooper makes and appearance at Halifax Provincial Court on Jan. 28.

Michael Gerard Cooper, a Cape Breton man now living in Dartmouth, was released from prison in January after serving seven years for killing Angela Smits, 19, of Sydney and her boyfriend Michael MacLean, 20, with a car after drinking.

Cooper appeared in Halifax court Tuesday, the second time in less than a week, for breaching his 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Monday evening in Dartmouth. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

“If he gets behind the wheel of a vehicle he will be (dangerous), absolutely. He’s already proven that,” said Susan MacAskill of MADD.

Last week, Cooper, who has been deemed a high-risk offender, pleaded guilty to breaching conditions after he walked into a liquor store in Halifax on Jan. 28, saying that his brain damage had made him confused and he didn’t know where he was going.

If Cooper keeps breaching his multiple conditions, MacAskill said the only alternative might be to go back to jail for an extended period.

“If you violate the terms of your probation, then there’s consequences for that,” she said.

MacAskill said it’s important that Cooper’s lifelong driving ban is strictly enforced, and added this is a unique case because Cooper has said he would drink again if given the chance, and shows no sign of remorse.

It’s important to keep Cooper’s case in the public eye because “two very important people” lost their lives, and the parents of Smits and MacLean are concerned with having the “right thing” done now, MacAskill said.

A fitness report stated Cooper is criminally responsible for his actions but has significant brain damage as a result of the collision, making it difficult for him to live independently.

“But he’s responsible for those injures to himself, he’s not a victim of circumstances,” MacAskill said. “Because of decisions he made, this is the outcome for him.”

MacAskill said it’s up to the justice system and professionals to determine whether jail, supervised housing or another outcome would be best.

“There needs to be decisions made. It shouldn’t just be a case that’s in limbo, where nobody seems to know what to do.”

Organizations: MADD

Geographic location: Dartmouth, Halifax, Cape Breton Sydney

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