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Family says courts 'failed' them after woman gets 'slap on the wrist' in deadly crash

Newmarket woman receives 12-month conditional sentence, including nine months' house arrest, in Dominik Adamek's 2018 death in Springwater Township
Maimuna Baldeh makes her way into the Barrie courthouse on Friday, June 7, where she was given a 12-month conditional sentence following her conviction in 2023 in relation to a hit and run that killed Springwater resident Dominik Adamek.

The Newmarket woman found guilty last fall of failing to stop at the scene of a collision that caused the death of Springwater resident Dominik Adamek will not be spending any time behind bars.

Justice Jonathan Dawe handed down Maimuna Baldeh's sentence this morning in a Barrie courtroom, which includes a 12-month conditional sentence, including nine months of house arrest, followed by an additional 12-month probationary period.

Baldeh, now 35, was found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death following a two-week jury trial in November 2023.

Adamek, 27, was killed in the early morning hours of May 5, 2018, after he was struck by a vehicle near the intersection of Wilson Drive and Carson Road in Springwater Township, just north of Barrie. He had been walking along the side of the road.

Baldeh had been working as a personal support worker and attending nursing school at the time of her subsequent arrest on Jan. 30, 2019.

At the time of the crash, she was on her way to work as a personal support worker in Thornbury.

Dominik Adamek, 27, was killed on May 5, 2018, in a hit-and-run collision in Springwater Township. | Image supplied

“It’s important to emphasize that I am not sentencing Ms. Baldeh for causing Mr. Adamek’s death. He was a fine young man who is greatly missed by his family and his friends," Dawe said. "His untimely accident and death is tragic, however the evidence at trial overwhelmingly leads to the conclusion that the accident that killed him was not Ms. Baldeh’s fault.

“The only crime Ms. Baldeh committed occurred after the accident when she failed to stop and summon help for Mr. Adamek," the judge added. "We now know that … there was nothing Ms. Baldeh could have done that would have saved his life, however (she) did not know that at the time. This makes her failure to stop … both morally reprehensible and legally culpable, even though in hindsight any attempt by her would have been futile.”

Dawe noted it was essential that Baldeh’s punishment be proportional to the crime she committed, adding he cannot punish her as if she were also legally and morally responsible for having caused the young man’s death.

“To do so would be to cause an injustice that would compound a tragedy in this already tragic case,” he said. “Sentences must be proportionate to the gravity of the offense and the degree of responsibility of the offender. 

“My task is to balance the mitigating factors of the case against the aggravating factors that have been established beyond a reasonable doubt," the judge added. 

Dawe said this was not a case where he could depart from established sentencing precedents, noting even if he agreed with the Crown’s policy argument that the ordinary sentencing range for failing to stop is too low and should be higher. Doing so, he added, would be an “error in principle” and would “fly in the face of the central principle of justice that like cases should be treated alike.”

“My task is a difficult one. On one hand, Ms. Baldeh is being sentenced for a serious offense,” Dawe said. “Ms. Baldeh failed to stop and summon help … in circumstances where it would have been obvious there was little chance that anyone else would do so. Her inaction ended up making no difference because Mr. Adamek was in fact so badly injured that he was beyond saving, however Ms. Baldeh did not know this at the time."

Dawe said this was a “very serious breach” of the statute that the Criminal Code places on drivers as well as a “grave moral lapse” on Baldeh’s part. 

Although Baldeh has maintained she was unaware she’d hit a person, Dawe said he has no doubt that she now regrets her decision not to stop and try to determine what happened. 

“If she’d done so, she’d most certainly not have suffered any criminal consequences, since the accident was criminally not her fault," the judge said. 

Baldeh’s failure to stop, though, has “upended her life as she’s now had a serious criminal charge hanging over her head for more than five years, her career plans have been destroyed and her ability to remain in Canada is in serious jeopardy," Dawe said. 

“I don’t think a jail sentence is necessary to deter Ms. Baldeh from committing a similar offense again,” the judge added, while members of the Adamek family sat stoically in the gallery shaking their heads.

“The Crown argues Ms. Baldeh's conduct on the morning of the accident was the opposite of responsible and compassionate. I agree, however I am not prepared to take a further step of treating (her) failure to stop as somehow revealing her true character and … negating the positive impression she’s made on others throughout her life," Dawe said. 

"What’s more charitable, and might be a more accurate way of looking at, is that Ms. Baldeh's conduct on May 5, 2018 was out of character for her as evidenced by the otherwise pro-social and law-abiding life she led both before and after the accident," he said. "I am satisfied she panicked in all the stress and confusion and did something she now very much regrets.”

Dawe said he was satisfied that having Baldeh serve her sentence in the community will not endanger public safety.

2018-05-24 Fatal JO-001
This file photo shows, from left, father Andrew Adamek, brother Kristian Adamek and mother Diane Adamek holding a graduation photo of Dominik Adamek. | Jessica Owen/Village Media

Baldeh will spend the first nine months of the 12-month conditional sentence order under house arrest, but will be allowed to leave home to attend work, medical and legal appointments, attend church or to perform community service as well as to obtain the necessities of life.

She is also required to complete 75 hours of community service, not consume any drugs or alcohol and is not to contact members of the Adamek family.

For the final three months of her conditional sentence, she will be required to follow a curfew and remain in her home between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Outside the courtroom, the Adamek family expressed anger and frustration at Friday's outcome.

“Never mind (the work of) police officers … or what they do. The work they do is useless. They’re bringing the criminals in front of a judge and … they get a slap on the wrist and go,” said Andrew Adamek, Dominik’s father. “What kind of a sentence is that? House arrest and she can go to work and everything like that? (It’s a) joke. Shame on you. What about my son?”

The family feels like they’ve been failed by the court system, brother Kristian Adamek told BarrieToday.

“The judge … has decided she is a victim somehow in this. My brother has been killed ... We are a family who has to go through this," Kristian said. "What’s really sad is there are other families who have gone through this and the judge… has decided that the (penalty) should be less and less on the criminals and that precedent that the crime should be looked at as more of a joke, more of a slap on the wrist and something not to be taken seriously. 

"It’s unacceptable. It’s unbelievable and shocking and we’ve been failed by the court system," he added while fighting back tears and his voice shaking. “This court system decides that it's more important to take care of the criminal than people who are actually victims.

"It’s backwards and it makes no sense and it’s not fair."