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Man gets life in prison for 2010 fatal crash

A career criminal has been sentenced to life behind bars in a 2010 fatal crash that claimed the life of a 26-year-old woman.

Robert Clifford Smith received life in prison for the Feb. 14 collision that killed Sara Attayee and seriously injured five other women.

Smith recently pleaded guilty of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm. It’s the first time in Canadian history that someone has received a life sentence for criminal negligence causing death.

The judge, who cried when handing out the sentence, described Smith as being on a “rampage.”

Smith groaned when the sentence was handed out Friday as others in the Toronto courtroom clapped.

“It’s outrageous,” one of Smith’s supporters fumed outside the courtroom.

“The judge took a very harsh sentence. It was unfair and there will be an appeal…it’s not like he went outside and said, ‘I’m going to kill somebody today.’ He didn’t mean to do this,” said the woman, who refused to give her game.

The crash occurred Feb. 14, 2010, during a police chase at Lawrence and Pharmacy avenues in Scarborough. The province’s Special Investigations Unit assigned four forensic investigators and six other investigators to look into the crash.

“If the police had called off their pursuit, this never would have happened,” the woman said.

Police began pursuing Smith after a break-in at a Herbal Magic weight-loss store at Midland Avenue and Ellesmere Road.

Smith took off in a stolen car and set off a police chase that ended when he T-boned the vehicle carrying the women.  

Three people had to be freed from the wreckage.

Including the fatal crash, Smith had 193 criminal convictions over 20 years in the Toronto area, including 70 charges during a two-week period in 2008 where he was wanted for a high-speed pursuit and break and enter.

He had been involved in six prior police chases and had been in and out of jail since 1988.