The sudden rise from poverty in Nova Scotia to a well-paid job in Alberta has been blamed for the drug addiction that cost a young man his freedom and his driving privileges on Monday.
Neil Robert MacDonald, 27, was jailed for one year, to be followed by 30 months of probation, and had his driving licence suspended for six years after pleading guilty to charges arising from a dangerous pursuit from Lacombe Police on Thursday.
Court heard that MacDonald raised suspicions of Sgt. Rick Kohut, who noticed a vehicle driving with its headlights turned off at about 3:30 a.m. near Lacombe’s aquatic centre.
Rather than pulling over when Kohut activated his lights, MacDonald pulled away, beginning a pursuit during which the vehicle he was driving — reported stolen later in the day — hit speeds of up to 90 km/h within city limits.
MacDonald pulled into a parking lot at one point, then slammed the car into reverse as Kohut’s vehicle approached and sped off again, jumping parking curbs and sidewalks on its way back to the street.
The car eventually went out of control and came to rest against a steel post set up to protect a utility box, Crown prosecutor Jillian Brown said while reading the facts for Judge Jim Mitchell in Red Deer provincial court.
MacDonald was still trying vainly to back away when Kohut asked him to roll down his window. An altercation ensued, with Kohut chasing MacDonald through the front seat of the car, across the lap of a woman who had been riding in the passenger seat.
A second officer arrived at the scene to help subdue the man, who did not flinch when he was hit with a stun gun, said Brown.
After blowing zero on the intoxilator (which measures alcohol), MacDonald admitted to police that he had done “10 points of heroin and a —-load of coke,” said Brown.
Rather than give them his own name, he gave them that of his brother, John A. MacDonald.
MacDonald told Mitchell that drugs have taken over his life since his move to Alberta, where he has worked as an apprentice pipefitter on two high-profile job sites.
“I was out of my head. I’m very, very sorry. That’s not me at all,” he said, admitting to Mitchell that he takes heroin by injection.
Duty counsel Murray Shack said is client a normally quiet man who “goes out of his skull” when he’s high.
“This young man has gone from a life of poverty in Nova Scotia to making above-average money in Alberta and, as a result, has developed a drug problem,” said Shack.
He and Brown negotiated guilty pleas on charges including evading police, assaulting a police officer, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, obstructing police, possession of a dangerous weapon for the folding knife in his pocket, possession of stolen property and breaching probation.
Mitchell said the early guilty plea saved MacDonald from a much longer sentence in a federal penitentiary. He ordered MacDonald to abstain from all drugs and alcohol and to seek treatment for his addiction during his jail term and following his release. The driving prohibition kicks in at the expiry of his current suspension, a period of five years ordered in Fort McMurray provincial court on Dec. 10.