A man who crashed two stolen vehicles while intoxicated in Vernon last summer, including a transportation truck that tipped over and blocked traffic, will spend the next 10 months in jail.
Justen Morgan Sheena was sentenced to just under two years in jail for six counts of shoplifting from Osoyoos to Kelowna and for the intoxicated driving rampage on Tronson Road near Vernon.
Between January and April 2017, Sheena had shoplifted at two liquor stores in Oliver and one in Osoyoos, and then at grocery stores in Kelowna and West Kelowna, with each theft ranging from $60 to $200 in value.
For those charges, Sheena was handed a 150-day sentence, right in the middle of the Crown and defence submissions of 180 days and 120 days, respectively.
Then on July 11, Sheena was driving a stolen Nissan Sentra, when he crashed the vehicle into a ditch. A bystander reported that he had left the scene, up a hill, and was believed to have stolen a Jeep. In fact, he had stolen a transportation truck that had been left running while the driver spoke with a homeowner.
As he drove down the hill, a police officer attempted to lay a spike belt, but was unsuccessful. He did, however, get a chance to see the driver, and found he matched the description of the Nissan driver.
He lost sight of the truck as it drove off, swaying as it turned, while he called for backup. Another officer, driving toward the Nissan crash, found a woman walking down the street which he believed to match a description of the passenger in the Nissan. Soon after, he found the transportation truck flipped on its side on Tronson Road, blocking both lanes of traffic.
After getting onto the passenger side of the vehicle, which was by then the top side of the flipped truck, police said Sheena said he hadn’t been driving, asking why he was being arrested, and resisted efforts to arrest him. He only allowed handcuffs to be placed on him after he was faced with a taser, which was not used.
For that incident, Sheena pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000, driving while disqualified, intoxicated driving, resisting a police officer and failing to remain at the scene of a crash.
In total, Sheena was facing around nine-and-a-half months in jail, including the shoplifting and the Vernon driving incidents, taking into account the 419 days he had in enhanced credit for time served. The total worked out to just under two years, which was below the requests of even the defence in a sentencing hearing last week, according to Judge Jeremy Guild.
However, Sheena got another couple of weeks added to his sentence, because he was unable to pay the victim fine surcharge. Guild noted that fee is legally mandatory, however, some judges have opted not to enforce it. Similarly, the Pivot Legal Society out of Vancouver recently announced it would challenge the mandatory nature of the fine.
In his sentencing, Guild noted a Gladue report that was prepared — a report that details Indigenous individuals and their families’ experiences with residential schools, alcoholism, foster care and other ill effects of colonization. The report is intended to give context for what conditions the crimes arose from.
Guild noted Sheena’s early experiences with alcoholism in his family and the impacts residential schools had on Sheena’s grandparents, and the residual effects passed on to later generations.
For that reason, as well as Sheena’s efforts to get clean by way of methadone in the jail and seeking residential treatment afterward, Guild said he felt there was cause to sentence Sheena below what even defence counsel had asked.