A Ponoka man was fortunate to walk out the way he came in last week.
Scott Wiebe, 26, pleaded guilty at Ponoka Provincial Court on Friday, Dec. 3 to one count each of driving while disqualified, driving without insurance and failing to appear in court and nearly wound up leaving the courtroom in handcuffs if not for the judge accepting the man’s explanation.
Instead, Wiebe was handed almost $3,500 in fines as well as an additional one year driving ban.
According to the facts presented by the crown, back on Jan. 8, 2105, an RCMP officer in an unmarked vehicle spotted a vehicle known to belong to Wiebe – who had his licence suspended nearly three months earlier for an impaired driving conviction – parked at the 7-11 in Ponoka. The officer believed Wiebe may be driving it, so he waited and the pulled over the vehicle after it left the parking lot.
Wiebe was found driving the car, which was also found to no longer have insurance.
While admitting he was driving when he shouldn’t have been and that the car wasn’t insured, Wiebe provided an explanation to the court that seemed to satisfy the judge to the point where it kept Wiebe out of heading to jail.
He told the court, prior to sentencing, that the car had been parked at his place of employment – a job he has since lost due to transportation issues – since his impaired conviction, but that day he was told it had to be moved and Wiebe felt there was no other option than to do it himself, adding he knew he shouldn’t have done it.
Judge J.B. Mitchell stated during sentencing that he took Wiebe’s explanation at face value, adding he had no reason to doubt Wiebe’s version, and also noted it isn’t the most egregious example of this type of offence as well as the fact Wiebe has had to find a new job as a result.
“Like I tell all of the people that appear before me that are convicted and suspended from driving, there is always the chance that you will go to jail if you are caught behind the wheel without having your licence,” stated Judge Mitchell to Wiebe.
“The real consequence for you though is another conviction, an extended driving ban and some big fines.”
A 32-year-old man from the Louis Bull First Nation ended up with the minimum penalty allowable along with a lengthy period of probation after the judge believed there was a better way to deal the case.
George Twins pleaded guilty to one count each of driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 and driving while unauthorized after he was seen weaving across several roads in downtown Ponoka around midnight on Saturday, Nov. 7 and found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.23. Twins also didn’t have a licence, as it had not been reinstated after a previous impaired conviction.
Twins received $1,200 in fines and one year ban on driving along with an 18-month probation that has several restrictions placed on him, including alcohol treatment.
The crown did ask for fines nearing $3,000 to go with an 18 month driving ban. However, Judge Mitchell expressed concern with that suggestion after finding out Twins has a large family, is unemployed and has a significant alcohol problem.
“What are you doing gunned to the gills at midnight with six kids at home? The party is over and you need to put your big boys pants on and grow up. And with no job, the likelihood of such an unrealistic financial penalty being a deterrent and getting paid off is slim, yet the toolbox I have to deal with this is limited. However, I think we can do something better than $3,000 in fines,” said Judge Mitchell before sentencing Twins.
“Despite what happened, I believe probation would perhaps be useful if you can come to grips with your alcohol problem and employment troubles. Hopefully, this will go a long way to redirecting you in a more positive direction.”
One month jail
A former Ponoka man will spend some further time behind bars as a result of pleading guilty to charges of shoplifting and failing to appear in court.
Andrew Rain, 35, now living in Ma-Me-O Beach, admitted to stealing a number of pills from the Shoppers Drug Mart in Ponoka back in June of 2014 and then not showing up for his trial that was set for Oct. of 2014. Rain was handed a 30-day jail sentence with 12 days credit for the time he had already spent in jail.
Rain’s lawyer explained that his client has not been in trouble since that incident, and moved away specifically so he would no longer be involved with the drugs and alcohol lifestyle he had been leading.
Judge Mitchell was pleased to see the man’s change, but added the charges combined with his previous record left him little choice but to send him a message with a term in jail.
A woman who is five-months pregnant and having to deal with some other personal issues was cut a substantial break after pleading guilty to charges of shoplifting and failing to appear in court.
Chelsea Rain, 22, from Ponoka, was sentenced to eight days in jail – which amounted to time served – after calling the crown’s suggestion of a $500 fine impractical given the circumstances. Rain was charged for taking several personal hygiene and makeup items from Shoppers Drug Mart back in May of 2014 and then not showing up for a pair of court appearances that same year.
In handing out the sentence, Judge Mitchell took into account Rain’s present situation of trying to regain her independence after getting out of what could be considered a controlling relationship and support her two young children with another on the way as well as the relatively small value ($69) of items taken.