Local briefs – March 19

A man who pleaded guilty to possession of drug-soaked Bible pages in Bowden Institution was sentenced to 90 days in a provincial jail.

The Word, soaked in hash oil

A man who pleaded guilty to possession of drug-soaked Bible pages in Bowden Institution was sentenced to 90 days in a provincial jail.

Raymond McMartin, 29, a former Bowden inmate, pleaded guilty on Friday to possession of hashish oil for the purpose of trafficking.

A trial was set for Friday but McMartin changed his plea to guilty in Red Deer provincial court.

Hash oil is a thick liquid made from dissolving hashish or marijuana in solvents like acetone, alcohol, butane or petroleum ether.

Last year, Bible pages found in McMartin’s cell were soaked in the oil to be cut into strips of rolling paper to make cigarettes.

Federal Crown prosecutor said Dave Inglis said the strips were worth about $1,275 inside the prison.

Inglis and defence lawyer Kevin Sproule jointly recommended a 90-day jail sentence.

Judge Jim Mitchell said McMartin had a “outrageous” record, but agreed that McMartin was trying to turn his life around with a new job.

McMartin will serve his sentence at Edmonton Remand on weekends.


Cocaine sale got costly

A Strathmore man was fined $5,000 on Friday in Red Deer provincial court for selling cocaine to undercover police officers in 2007.

Stephen Andrew Richard, 23, pleaded guilty to selling 3.5 grams of cocaine to members of Red Deer RCMP’s street team on three occasions in June 2007. During one of the sales he also sold the undercover officer ecstasy tablets.

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff said his client did not deal with the charges earlier because he was living and working in British Columbia. Richard was unaware of the charges and had not yet been ordered to attend court.

Since Richard returned to Alberta, he has received a conditional sentence in Lethbridge provincial court for previously selling drugs to undercover police in that city. He has just completed the house arrest portion of that sentence.

Judge Bert Skinner said he issued the hefty fine to address the issue of general deterrence even though Richard appeared to have changed his lifestyle and has followed the rules of his conditional sentence out of Lethbridge.

Skinner also put Richard on probation for one year.


Open house on Riverlands plan

The City of Red Deer is hosting an open house on March 29 about the proposed future for Riverlands and a new concept plan for Taylor Drive.

“As we move forward with the implementation of the Greater Downtown Action Plan, the Riverlands plan outlines strong direction that will make this area a destination for residents and visitors,” said city manager Craig Curtis.

“The Taylor Drive Concept Plan compliments this plan with strong connections between the Riverlands and the Historic Downtown.”

The Greater Downtown Action identifies three distinct and unique areas focusing on great places and vitality in Red Deer. Riverlands is an area envisioned as a mixed-use, high-density urban neighbourhood with strong connections to the downtown and the river.

“Both plans put a strong emphasis on movement from Historic Downtown to the Riverlands and ways to develop strong public spaces, such as the proposal for a public market,” said City of Red Deer downtown co-ordinator Charity Dyke.

The Taylor Drive Concept Plan — which balances the need for a strong sense of arrival in downtown rather than being a means to travel through the downtown — includes a pedestrian promenade from Alexander Way crossing Taylor Drive on the south side of the intersection, and roadway changes on Taylor Drive to provide a smooth connection and accommodate traffic flow now and in the future.

The Riverlands area geographically contains reference landmarks such as the old Civic Yards operations, Carnival Cinemas, Cronquist Business Park, the Old Brew Plaza and the previous UFA site.

Red Deerians can review the design concepts, ask questions, and provide their feedback into the plans at the public open house on Tuesday, March 29, from 5 to 7 p.m., with a presentation at 5:30 p.m., at 5589 47th St. (located next to The Quarry condominium complex).

Anyone who cannot attend the open house can provide input by going to www.reddeer.ca/downtownplan to view the plans and filling out the feedback form.


Shoplifter ran over security

A man was sentenced to 12 months in jail on Friday for charges that included assault causing bodily harm after a Save On Foods loss prevention officer was run over by a pickup truck while chasing a shoplifter.

Ernest Martin Duda, 46, also pleaded guilty in Red Deer provincial court to theft under $5,000, breach of probation, and failure to make court appearances.

Crown prosecutor Yasifina Somji told the court that police received a complaint of a hit and run on Nov. 7, 2009. The female loss female prevention officer saw Duda steal meat from the store before jumping into the passenger seat of a truck.

The store employee was hanging onto the truck and dragged about six metres before Duda pushed her off the truck. She fell and was run over by the back of the truck.

The employee, who read her victim impact statement to the court, said she still feels scared when she hears a loud truck and takes medication for anxiety. She was left with permanent scars on her face and knees and lost the eye lashes above one of her eyes.

Judge Bert Skinner said he was reminded of a case in British Columbia where a young man died after trying to apprehend someone driving off without paying for gas.

“This is a very serious matter before the court,” Skinner said.

Duda’s sentence included eight months in custody for assault causing bodily harm and four months for breach of probation.