Man gets house arrest for wild chase

A 21-year-old man who led police on a wild chase through Red Deer was given a nine-month conditional sentence and banned from driving for two years on Thursday.

A 21-year-old man who led police on a wild chase through Red Deer was given a nine-month conditional sentence and banned from driving for two years on Thursday.

Red Deer provincial court Judge Bert Skinner told Ryan Harder, of Red Deer, he must spend the first four months of his sentence under house arrest, which means he can only leave home for specific reasons such as school, work or medical appointments.

Harder will be on curfew for the remaining five months and must be at home between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Skinner also ordered Harder to do 50 hours of community service and pay the RCMP $5,035 in restitution for the damage he did to a police car during a chase on Nov. 10, 2011.

Harder had previously pleaded guilty in court to a number of charges, including failing to stop for police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and failing to stop at the scene of an accident in relation to two separate instances when he fled police.

On Nov. 3, 2011, he was spotted by police around 63rd Street west of Gaetz Avenue. Harder took off at a high rate of speed and managed to evade police.

He wasn’t so lucky a week later when police saw him again about 9:30 a.m. near Gaetz Avenue and 71st Street.

After being spotted by police, Harder, driving a Volkswagen Golf, refused to pull over and sped off. He jumped curbs, drove through numerous red lights and hit speeds of 80 km/h in school and playground zones.

Police tried to stop him with a spike belt but he veered off the road to avoid it.

The RCMP abandoned the chase because of the danger after one of their vehicles was hit by Harder. Four unmarked RCMP vehicles were used to follow him discreetly.

A police helicopter that had been involved in a search for a missing person nearby was also called in to help track Harder.

As Harder continued driving, he narrowly missed hitting a pair of seniors at a crosswalk on Taylor Drive.

He was finally caught when his car hit a cement barrier at Red Deer College and police used their vehicles to block him.

Crown prosecutor Charlotte Oxford suggested a prison sentence of one to two years.

Defence lawyer Walter Kubanek argued that the 30 days Harder had spent in custody when he was arrested had sent the message that he needed to get help and suggested a conditional sentence.

Harder has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which has left him with diminished mental capacity, he said.

Kubanek said Harder now has a job and wants to take a welding course at Red Deer College. He is living with an aunt.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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