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Some charges dropped for guilty plea

Charges of attempted murder and assaulting police officers have been withdrawn for a Red Deer man who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to numerous charges laid from his efforts at avoiding arrest on outstanding warrants.

Weston Kleigh Pickford, 22, was sentenced to 30 months, minus three months for time served, in Red Deer provincial court on charges of dangerous driving, flight from police, obstructing police, mischief, and numerous breaches of release conditions. Pickford was arrested in Red Deer shortly after midnight on Sept. 5.

“Ironically, what he was wanted for was far less serious than what he did to avoid it,” said defence counsel Paul Moreau.

Court heard that a Red Deer City community peace officer had stopped Pickford near Eastview Middle School just before noon on Sept. 4 because his plates did not match the car he was driving.

The peace officer asked the RCMP for assistance when he discovered that Pickford was wanted on outstanding warrants for breaching conditions of a probation order as well as a mischief charge laid in connection with an earlier incident.

There was a tussle when the peace officer attempted to seize Pickford’s car keys.

Instead of surrendering to the peace officer, Pickford pushed him away and drove off, said Crown prosecutor Murray McPherson while reading an agreed statement of facts.

An RCMP officer then called Pickford on his cell phone and was told that he would turn himself in, but wanted to see his children first because he knew he would be going into custody.

Lacombe police were alerted and showed up at about 11:30 p.m. at the home where Pickford’s children live with their mother.

The two officers had parked in the back alley a few doors away and could hear some yelling as they walked toward the house where Pickford was sitting in his car, said McPherson.

Instead of being up front about coming to arrest him, they “sneak” up on him in the back alley and surprise him, which threw him into a panic, said Moreau.

He explained that his client is prone to panic because he suffers from multiple mental health disorders, including bipolar, anxiety and attention deficit.

Court heard that Pickford sped off, hitting speeds of 110 to 180 km/h. Lacombe police pursued him back to Red Deer, where they were called off by Red Deer City RCMP.

City police in plain clothes and unmarked vehicles picked up the pursuit, following from a discreet distance until they were able to disable Pickford’s vehicle, said McPherson.

In accepting a joint sentencing submission negotiated between the Crown and defence, Judge David Plosz told Pickford he was lucky that no one was killed as a result of his actions.

“You’re 22. You’re just a pup, and you have got yourself, after today, an absolutely brutal criminal record,” said Plosz.

“Maybe you and I will meet again. I hope not. The sentences are not getting any shorter.”

Along with the prison sentence, Plosz ordered that Pickford’s driver’s licence be suspended for three years once he has been released.

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