Ponoka man acquitted in vehicle rampage

Man was charged with a number of offences

A Ponoka man has been acquitted of all charges related to a violent hostage taking and vehicle rampage in Red Deer in 2013.

Red Deer provincial court Judge Gord Deck concluded that a powerful medication that Joseph Paul Donovan, 37, was on to treat an auto-immune disorder meant he was suffering from “non-insane automatism” at the time of the offences.

“Accordingly, I find he is not guilty on all of the charges,” said Deck on Monday.

Donovan had been charged with a number of offences including: assaulting a police officer, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, uttering threats, failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

Donovan was arrested on July 31, 2013 after police were called with reports of an erratic driver.

Police alleged he had taken a hostage into his vehicle before going on a rampage behind the wheel. He plowed into two pedestrians, three vehicles and a fence within 20 minutes in Highland Green and other nearby neighbourhoods.

Fortunately, those struck were not seriously injured. The hostage eventually managed to escape.

Defence lawyer Michael Scrase had argued that Donovan should not be held criminally responsible because he was under the influence of a drug known to cause delirium and Donovan had a past history of automatism, which is defined as acting without being consciously aware of what you are doing.

A doctor had testified that patients taking a weekly dose of the medication Donovan had been prescribed daily were warned of the possibility of developing psychosis. A patient taking the dose at the level Donovan was would be a “rare finding,” the doctor had testified.

The Crown had argued that Donovan had contributed to his delirium by not taking his medications and drinking alcohol.

However, Donovan’s partner said she prepared his medications and he was taking them as prescribed.

In his ruling, Deck pointed out that Donovan had exhibited bizarre behaviour when the offences were committed. He had no recollection of what had happened, no motive, and was horrified when he found out what he had done.

Doctors said that Donovan, who had no previous criminal record, was highly unlikely to re-offend once he was off the problem medication.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Everything from coffee makers to coats in latest Canada Games sale

Sale runs 1 to 7 p.m. at Games office at Bower Place mall

Town of Sylvan Lake has big ideas for lakeshore

Day mooring docks wanted but first water licence needed from province

Red Deer business moves away from overdose prevention site

At least one Red Deer business has moved away from the temporary… Continue reading

Canada Revenue Agency tax services back online after ‘hardware’ problems

OTTAWA — The websites Canadians use to file their taxes online were… Continue reading

Roof structures failed before Radiohead stage came down, inquest hears

TORONTO — Metal structures meant to hold a roof over a stage… Continue reading

Opinion: Business tax relief is a sound idea

NDP leader should avoid picking winners and losers

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal 2-1

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey… Continue reading

Canadian men’s soccer squad off to Gold Cup with 4-1 win over French Guiana

VANCOUER, B.C. — Canada’s men’s soccer team is looking to the future… Continue reading

Inquest into fatal Radiohead stage collapse set to get underway in Toronto

TORONTO — An inquest is set to get underway today into the… Continue reading

The Latest: Streisand apologizes for Jackson comments

NEW YORK — The Latest on Barbra Streisand’s comments about the sexual… Continue reading

Pricey Titanic wreck tours hope to bring new life to a century-old story

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists with money in the bank have… Continue reading

Most Read