A man who attempted multiple times to evade police and dumped his friend on the side of the road in Summerland will serve his sentence in the community under house arrest.
Joshua Evan Bickford appeared in court on July 24 in Penticton to hear his fate after earlier pleading guilty to crimes from incidents in April 2020 and January 2021.
Since being taken into custody, Bickford has gotten into treatment for addiction issues and has spent the last year substance-free, one of the major factors the judge cited in their decision to accept the joint submission for an 18-month conditional sentence order served in the community.
Bickford on one incident pleaded guilty to one count of driving while prohibited and one count of operating a vehicle in a dangerous manner on April 2, 2020. The second incident also involved driving while prohibited and one charge of fleeing police.
Additional charges were filed for both incidents but stayed as part of the joint submission and guilty pleas.
On April 2, shortly after midnight, the vehicle Bickford was driving was spotted while officers were conducting a curfew check on a property. The vehicle had a stolen license plate and promptly took off after spotting the police.
What followed could be summed up as a vehicle version of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, with Bickford fleeing police and evading police on six different occasions that night.
Following an encounter with Summerland RCMP, officers located a man on the ground who told them he’d been picked up by Bickford on Green Mountain Road before the police chase.
Eventually, officers deployed a spike belt on West Hills Road figuring that Bickford would turn back up there. All four tires blew, but Bickford continued going on rims alone before the vehicle eventually left the road.
Bickford fled on foot and eventually needed to be wrestled down and physically subdued before he could be taken into custody.
After being released, Bickford was again spotted driving a vehicle with the wrong license plate on it, leading to a pursuit starting at Summerland Hill. After he got the vehicle stuck, RCMP and a police dog team tracked down Bickford and three other people.
During the first incident, Bickford was high on drugs in the first incident.
“Ordinarily a person with Mr Bickford’s record for continually driving while prohibited and breaching his probation orders would not be a candidate for a condition sentence order,” said the judge. “Mr Bickford has made some tremendous strides since these offenses were committed and he has suffered since his childhood with substance abuse and drug use.
“He has taken an enormous step to turn his life around and he has in fact been sober for more than a year.”
The addiction treatment program that Bickford is on requires regular urine testing, which was a factor the judge cited in her reasoning to believe Bickford would continue to stay substance free.
Another factor was that prior to Bickford’s arrests, his partner had planned to take their three children and leave over his behaviour. The judge felt that was another aspect which would reinforce the necessity of Bickford staying sober and out of trouble.
The judge also considered Bickford’s previous record, which consisted largely of other driving crimes and some property crimes.
“The biggest thing in my view is that Mr. Bickford, regardless of how he came to be in this situation, has taken steps to change himself and has actually worked at it and seems to be successful,” said the judge. “I am of the view that given those changes in Mr Bickford’s life, I can take the chance of putting him on a conditional sentence at this time.”
Under the 18-month conditional sentence, Bickford will be under a strict 24/7 house arrest for the first six months outside of work or medical appointments, and then a curfew for the remaining time.
He also received a three-year driving prohibition.
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