An Edmonton man received six months of house arrest at the Ponoka provincial court Friday, Aug. 28 after pleading guilty to fleeing from police.
Events leading to the arrest on April 22 earlier this year involved evading police and travelling at speeds in excess of 170 km/h on Highway 53 before crashing into some trees.
Crown prosecutor Steve Degen told the court that Morgan Lockwood was charged by police with several offenses including dangerous driving, failing to stop and having no insurance and valid licence.
A high-risk takedown was initiated by officers, whereby it is reported that Lockwood and some passengers escaped from the vehicle before Lockwood returned. The rest were found with help from the police dog services.
When Lockwood returned to the scene the officer told him to lie down but he did not comply with the requests. Degen said Lockwood told the officer to, “Just shoot me.”
“He strikes me as an individual . . . that can be easily influenced by other people,” said Degen of his recommendation of six months of house arrest.
He added part of the conditional order would be for Lockwood to find work or go back to school as well as be placed under community service hours.
“He needs a little help and guidance,” added defense counsel Rick Wyrozub.
When Judge G. Yake asked Lockwood for comments, he replied that it was the first time he had ever driven a vehicle. “I will never be doing stuff like that again.”
“You’re very lucky to be alive,” added Yake.
Among the many conditions of the house arrest, Lockwood must have no contact with the other individuals involved in the collision and he received a 12-month driving prohibition.
Over $5,000 in fines for motorcyclist
Travelling at speeds in excess of 175 km/h on Highway 2 on a motorcycle with no insurance or a proper licence landed Luke Bond, a Sherwood Park resident with fines of more than $5,000.
Degen told the court that highway officers had to travel at 200 km/h on March 15 for some time to be able to catch up with Bond.
Once caught up, Degen stated the officer witnessed the 24-year-old Bond look back, speed ahead between two vehicles before changing his mind and pulling over. Bond pled guilty to four of the seven charges related to the events.
Judge Yake suggested jail time would need to be considered.
Defense counsel Greg Worobec replied that the early plea and quick change of mind to stop for police, and no criminal activity related to fleeing police may be cause for fines rather than jail time. “Mr. Bond sold the motorcycle shortly after this incident,” he added, referring to steps taken to change his life around.
Yake ordered a one-year driving prohibition and warned Bond to ensure to pay his fines and not to drive until allowed. “It’s not unusual that you could go to jail if you’re convicted,” added Yake, regarding following the orders.
Bond said he was prepared to pay the fine as soon as possible.
Impaired driver receives fine and driving prohibition
The decision to drive while impaired with a blood-alcohol level of .31 landed Lee Kopitoski with a $3,000 fine and a 12-month driving prohibition.
Degen told the court that a concerned motorist called in a complaint July 24 of an erratic driver on Highway 2A north of Ponoka. Eventually the vehicle crashed into the railway tracks becoming stuck and needing to be moved.
Upon arrival, police located Kopitoski when he subsequently failed the roadside blood-alcohol test. He admitted to police at the detachment that he is a functional alcoholic.
Duty counsel David Paull said Kopitoski is “extremely remorseful and ashamed” for his actions. Since the incident, he lost his job as a third year apprentice plumber because he could not drive.
“I regret what I’ve done and never again will I be that stupid,” added Kopitoski.
Judge Yake warned that jail time is a distinct possibility with cases like this. “Your readings are astronomical.”
After hearing that Kopitoski is taking steps to deal with his alcoholism, Yake added he was pleased to see those steps in action. He ordered the fine and the driving prohibition and gave Kopitoski six to eight months to pay the fine.
He added that if Kopitoski makes the effort to pay the fine but cannot complete it, a request for an extension can be made to the judge before Feb. 26 next year.