Court Report

‘Outlier’ traffic offenses lead to lower than usual fines

Slave Lake
Provincial Court
August 5, 2020
Judge G.W. Paul

Appearing by closed circuit video from Edmonton Remand Centre, Matthew McKinley pled guilty to failure to appear and three charges of failure to comply with a release order. One charge was withdrawn.
On September 10, 2019, McKinley failed to attend court.
One failure to comply was from February 23, 2020 and the other two were from March 4, 2020. One of the failures to comply was for a no contact order.
It was careless to enter the mall, Judge Paul told McKinley during sentencing. In the mall, McKinley encountered a person he was not allowed to contact. This person initiated contact. McKinley did not stop the encounter.
McKinley has a limited previous record.
McKinley is addicted to methamphetamine, said the defence. He’d been clean, but started hanging out in the drug scene, which led to a relapse. He was seeing an addictions counsellor in Slave Lake and plans to continue once he’s released.
For failure to appear, McKinley was fined $200. No time to pay was given, so he was sentenced to the default of three days. McKinley was sentenced to seven days each concurrent for failure to comply with a release order. All sentences equaled time served.

Appearing in person, a 17-year-old male pled guilty to driving with no insurance under the Traffic Safety Act.
“You understand the importance of insurance,” Judge Paul asked the youth. He said he did.
“I know you’re a youth and looking to find your way,” said Judge Paul. Tell your friends that once you’re 18 the fine is $2,875 and around $5,000 for the second offence.
The young man was fined $300 and received time to pay until December 6, 2020.

John David Wetherill (55), from British Columbia, entered a plea of guilty to log book violations under the Motor Vehicle Transport Act. He contacted the court by phone and duty council spoke for him.
On March 2, 2020, Wetherill was at the Slave Lake vehicle inspection station, said the federal Crown prosecutor. There were errors on three days of his log book with time on duty asleep and time in and out of the sleeper not lining up.
Standard practice is to seek 20 per cent of the maximum fine, said the Crown. This is $1,000.
Duty council said that Wetherill had recently changed careers from being a millwright to a truck driver, as the BC forestry industry isn’t doing well. He was still learning how to fill out the log book and “lost track.” Wetherill asked for a fine between $300 and $600, as he doesn’t have much money.
“This is an outlier file,” said Judge Paul. It doesn’t set a precedent, so in deciding on a fine he considered the sharp learning curve for a man of 55 changing careers.
“It’s a unique circumstance,” the crown said.
Wetherill was fined $500 with time to pay until January 15, 2021.

Note: Slave Lake, Red Earth, and Wabasca Provincial Courts continue to meet in High Prairie Provincial Courthouse. People with criminal charges and traffic tickets are required to contact the court, Native Counselling, duty council, or their lawyers to speak for them. People can also attend in person in High Prairie. Court is limited to essential people and anyone entering the courthouse must wear a mask.

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