Canada

Driver in hit-and-run death of Hamilton composer Boris Brott sentenced to nearly 8 years in prison

The 35-year-old man found guilty in the April 2022 hit-and-run death of 78-year-old conductor Boris Brott will serve nearly eight years in prison after getting credit for time served, a judge told a sentencing hearing on Thursday in Hamilton.

Arsenije Lojovic was behind the wheel of his mother’s black Volkswagen in the city’s Durand neighbourhood the morning of April 5, 2022, when he struck Brott, a renowned conductor and motivational speaker, who was on a walk near his home. 

Lojovic had been on a harrowing drive through Hamilton’s upper and lower city that day. On July 17, Ontario Justice Fred Campling found Lojovic guilty of the three counts.

At the sentencing hearing at the John Sopinka Courthouse, Lojovic was given:

  • Six years for dangerous driving causing death.
  • Three years for failing to remain at the scene.
  • One year for breach of probation.

As well, Lojovic is prohibited from driving in Canada for life, and from owning a firearm, crossbow or explosive. He is also required to submit blood to the national DNA data bank

Campling granted him 871 days for time already served, meaning his total sentence amounts to seven years, seven months and nine days.

During the trial, Lojovic tesitified in his own defence. He described his history of bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and said he was convicted for impaired driving in 2009 and dangerous driving in 2020. He was given a conditional discharge and his licence was suspended after he pleaded guilty to the 2020 incident.

‘I will miss him every day of my life,’ says widow

Brott was a beloved conductor and composer, and the artistic director of the Orchestre classique de Montréal.

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During the sentencing hearing, Campling noted Brott was a beloved Hamilton community member, but anyone Lojovich could have killed on April 5 would have been just as bad. 

“‘No one is an island entirely of itself. Everyone is a piece of the continent, part of the main. Anyone’s death diminishes me because I am part of humanity,'” Campling said, modifying a poem from John Donne written in 1624. 

But the loss has “diminished and very badly hurt” Brott’s widow and family, Campling said. 

Ardyth Webster Brott read a victim impact statement to court about the day her husband was killed.

She said she heard the sirens and went to investigate what happened — only to be met with police officers who asked her what her name was and where she lived. 

“My husband was killed 144 steps from our house,” she told court. 

After Brott’s death, there was a growing memorial in front of his home on Park Street South in Hamilton. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Now, when Webster Brott hears sirens while out in the city, she said, she has to sit down. 

She said when she wakes up in the morning, she still puts her arm out for her husband and then remembers, “‘Oh God, you’re not here. You’re dead. Why are you dead?’

“I will miss him every day of my life,” she said.  

Lojovich was given an opportunity to speak before he was sentenced. He faced the family directly and said, “I just want you to know that I am truly, truly sorry.” 

Following the sentencing, the family left the courtroom in tears. 

In a statement to CBC Hamilton, the family said, “Nothing will undo the pain caused by this tragic and senseless loss. We believe that today’s sentence is the best outcome we could hope for.”

They called Brott an extraordinary husband, father and grandfather, and a “light in the world of music.” 

“His absence has left an irreplaceable void in all our lives and the hearts of all who admired his talent, dedication and spirit,” the statement said.

‘You knew what you were doing,’ justice tells Lojovic 

Lojovic’s counsel, Mary Murphy, had asked for a five- to six-year sentence with considerations to his long history of mental illness and bipolar diagnosis. 

Crown attorney Brett Moodie provided court with similar cases of dangerous driving resulting in death and what sentences the convicted individuals received. 

During the sentencing, Moodie also brought up that during Lojovic’s testimony in June, he blamed his erratic driving on a lack of experience behind the wheel. Moodie said Lojovic stated he had only been driving for four years. 

In court on Thursday, Moodie said the Crown viewed Lojovic’s driving record and found he had been licensed for 15 years.

In his statement of facts, Campling said Lojovic’s bipolar disorder led him to drive erratically, but that Lojovic admitted in his testimony he knew what he had done was wrong and chose to flee the scene. 

He also said he took Lojovic’s history of dangerous driving into account. 

“You knew what you were doing, you knew that was wrong and you didn’t want to get caught by staying at the scene,” Campling said in court Thursday. 

“You could have prevented it.”

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