Man who took Salmon Arm RCMP on wild chase sentenced

Accused pleads guilty to flight from peace officer, driving while prohibited

A man who led police on a lengthy chase that ended in the Fly Hills was sentenced to eight months in prison on May 7.

Steven Stuart Douglas Gardner, 23, pleaded guilty to fleeing from a peace officer and driving while prohibited.

The offences took place on Aug. 23, 2018; the accused has been in prison since September. He appeared via video in Provincial Court in Salmon Arm from the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.

Judge Dennis Morgan heard that the offence began about 4 p.m. when a Salmon Arm police officer in an unmarked car saw the accused driving a late ’90s white Grand Cherokee heading east into the city. The officer knew the accused from numerous dealings over the previous seven years.

Another officer saw him and did a U-turn on 30th Street SW in an attempt to stop him, the court heard. The accused headed onto the Trans-Canada Highway at high speed. The constable thought the accused might have spotted the unmarked vehicle as he is familiar with them.

The officer knew he was prohibited from driving and had been released from jail on July 18. He began following on 10th Avenue SW and soon saw the vehicle concealed behind a large truck. The vehicle began backing out; the officer tried pulling up beside him.

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The Jeep’s windows were open and the officer shouted, “Stop Steven, don’t do it.” However, the accused did a 360 with tires squealing and took off, blowing through two stop signs, the court heard.

Later the first officer, on Salmon River Road, saw the vehicle heading back to Salmon Arm. He caught up to it and followed as it went up Christison Road and then began accelerating up Fly Hills Road. The officer followed him for about 20 kilometres until the vehicle turned off on a side road. The officer stopped to call in back-up in case he was armed.

An RCMP plane was called in and spike belts were set up, but the vehicle was not found. Police surmised the accused parked it in trees to conceal it.

In sentencing Gardner, Judge Morgan noted this was not the first time for such offences, having been charged before with dangerous driving, flight from police and driving while prohibited.

Crown counsel Bill Hilderman described him as “a serious menace on the road.”

Crown and defence counsel prepared a joint submission for sentencing, requesting an eight-month jail sentence minus time served.

Defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen noted that Gardner is young, has had a common-law spouse for three years and they are expecting a baby in the next week or two. He said he has taken many courses while in prison ranging from substance abuse management to healthy relationships. He is awaiting entrance to a drug treatment facility.

“He’s quite young but obviously leading up to 2018 he made some incredibly bad choices… He’s made bad choices but is obviously motivated to make a change in his life.”

The judge agreed with the joint submission, expressing hope that the treatment centre and the responsibility of a child will change his life.

Minus time served of nearly six months, Gardner will serve two months and six days in prison. He must pay a mandatory fine of $500 by May 1, 2020 and he is prohibited from driving a vehicle for two years.


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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