Court of Appeal upholds Ramage conviction

Former Toronto Maple Leaf captain Rob Ramage enters Newmarket court in 2008.  (Mark O'Neill/QMI...

Former Toronto Maple Leaf captain Rob Ramage enters Newmarket court in 2008. (Mark O'Neill/QMI AGENCY)

IAN ROBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

Former Leafs captain Rob Ramage is in a Toronto slammer, starting a four-year sentence for a drunk driving crash that killed former Chicago Blackhawk Keith Magnuson.

Convicted in 2007 of his friend's drunk driving death, Ramage, 51, was free on bail pending an appeal of his conviction and sentence.

But he flew to Toronto from St. Louis, Mo., to surrender Monday after the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected his bid for a new trial. He was convicted of four charges stemming from the Dec. 14, 2003 crash.

"It's a disappointing day," said his lawyer Brian Greenspan, who added there will be no further appeal.

"We don't anticipate taking it any further," Greenspan added, saying Ramage will focus on getting early day-release to a half-way house.

Ramage, 51, is eligible for full parole after one-third -- 16 months -- of his sentence, regarded as Ontario's toughest-ever for a driver with no drinking-driving conviction record.

Accompanied by his wife Dawn, he surrendered at the Toronto West Detention Centre, Greenspan said.

"Rob handled it with his usual sense of dignity and a certain resignation," he said. "His family is understandably disappointed."

Ramage was driving the former Chicago Blackhawks captain from a funeral reception for ex-NHLer Keith McCreary when his rental car swerved into an oncoming SUV on Rutherford Rd. in Woodbridge.

Magnuson, 56, died and motorist Michelle Pacheco, then 39, "suffered significant debilitating injuries," Justice David Doherty wrote.

Born in a London suburb, Ramage -- who retired in 1994 and became a broker in Missouri -- had a blood-alcohol level almost three times the legal limit.

Greenspan claimed blood and urine tests were tainted and the car's odour of booze came from beer cans that burst during the crash. He argued his client's Charter rights were violated because Ramage was on morphine for a head injury, rendering him unable to give informed consent when a police officer requested a urine sample in hospital.

The court ruled the officer did not flagrantly breach his rights. A prosecutor also noted four independent analysis tests on separate blood and urine samples.

In the appeal decision, also signed by Justices John Laskin and Stephen Goudge, Doherty said he considered reducing the sentence, citing factors such as Ramage's otherwise "exemplary life," but noted Ontario Superior Court Justice Alexander Sosna made no error in principle. He rueld that cutting the sentence would "not be giving the trial judge's decision the deference it is due."


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