A 62-year-old Nova Scotia man described by a prosecutor as “truly the worst of the worst” of impaired drivers has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for eight recent charges, and according to his lawyer will likely die behind bars.
Terrance Lee Naugle, who has 71 prior criminal convictions and is suffering from lung cancer, appeared by video link Tuesday from Dorchester Penitentiary for sentencing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax for impaired driving, theft and cocaine trafficking-related offences.
“His appalling record has just become worse,” said Justice Jamie Campbell as he imposed the 15-year sentence, which was recommended by both prosecution and defence lawyers. “We can’t wait for someone to be killed by the drunk or impaired driver to impose a sentence that conveys the seriousness of the crime.”
The judge noted Naugle spared the justice system precious court time by pleading guilty to eight charges arising from three incidents, and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
“Terry Naugle, for all of his 71 prior convictions, seems to have made a right choice in a life that has been marked by a series of wrong choices,” the judge acknowledged.
Caught driving impaired 3 times in 7 months
In an agreed statement of facts, court learned Naugle was driving a vehicle in July 2019 that hit a car stopped for a pedestrian in a Dartmouth crosswalk. He was high on clonazepam, a prescription medication.
In October 2019 in Eastern Passage, he ran a red light and nearly hit a military police vehicle. He gave an RCMP officer a false name and address. A urine test showed he had multiple drugs in his system including cocaine, the opioid hydromorphone and clonazepam.
And in February 2020, a motorist saw Naugle driving erratically on Highway 107 in Porters Lake and followed him to a parking lot, where RCMP arrested him. Naugle was impaired with illicit and prescription drugs and was driving a stolen car, which inside had more than 80 grams of cocaine, an electronic scale and plastic baggies.
“It was very dangerous and probably a miracle that no one was killed,” said Crown attorney Melanie Perry. “Mr. Naugle is truly the worst of the worst with respect to impaired driving.
“Everyone using the roads in Nova Scotia is safer with Mr. Naugle in custody.”
Naugle’s criminal record includes more than 20 convictions related to impaired driving. In 2010, he was sentenced to 8½ years in prison for impaired driving, driving while disqualified and leaving the scene of a crash.
Tuesday’s 15-year sentence for impaired driving is likely precedent setting in Nova Scotia. Perry could not find a longer sentence, according to a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service.
At past court appearances, Naugle’s family members have interceded, saying that while the public needed to be protected, he needed help for his addictions.
In a nod to that, Perry said Tuesday’s sentencing wasn’t about punishing someone with a substance-abuse problem. It was about dealing with impaired driving.
Naugle’s sentence was reduced by 348 days after he was given 1½ times credit for the time already served in prison.
Defence lawyer Tony Amoud told the court Naugle will likely die behind bars. Amoud told CBC that a month ago he received Naugle’s prognosis that he had six to nine months left to live.
Amoud said Naugle had a difficult childhood, started drinking when he was 11, and within a few years became addicted to alcohol and drugs. His criminal record goes back to the 1970s.
Campbell remarked that Naugle looked older than his years, and that he is “not just a dying man, he appears to be a broken man.”
Asked whether he had anything to say, Naugle said with a weakened voice he was in “pretty bad shape now.”