By Andru McCracken
On August 15, 2019 an automatic licence plate reader installed on the cruiser of RCMP Sergeant Robert Dean identified a passing pick-up truck registered to a prohibited driver, Jeffery H.
Dean had been travelling southbound on Highway 5 past Camp Creek when he did a U-turn and pulled the vehicle over.
According to Crown prosecutor David Bouchard the male driver stated that he did not have a driver’s license with him as he lost it a few days ago while camping in Kelowna BC. The driver identified himself as Nicholas Grant H.
The information was noted down and the male stated he was borrowing his brother’s truck.
Dean’s police report noted the driver was nervous and that his description didn’t quite match that of Nicholas H.
Sergeant Dean asked what the man’s last driving offense was and for what. The male said it was for speeding two years ago in the Fort St. John area.
When Nicholas H’s driving history showed no infractions, the sergeant put the man under arrest until his identification could be confirmed.
“The man continued to say that he was Nicholas H but when Sergeant Dean advised he would be taking his fingerprints, he said he was, in fact, Jeffery H,” said Bouchard to provincial court judge Michael Brecknell in court in Valemount on February 6.
The man was taken to the Valemount RCMP station and a search of his vehicle found a passport belonging to Jeffery H.
The sergeant was satisfied that the man was in fact Jeffery H and he was released on a promise to appear in court.
In court, Jeffery H, the 41-year-old resident of Parksville, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified under the Canadian Criminal Code and the charge of willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer was dropped.
He had been a 22-year-long employee of Precision Drilling.
His lawyer Shawn Buckley said Jeffery was embarrassed and took responsibility for his bad decisions.
Buckley described how the downturn in the oil and gas sector and subsequent shortage of work had put the man under pressure. He said he had feared his marriage was ending.
“They had separated, work had slowed down.”
“He is a hard-working man who couldn’t get a flight and made a bad decision,” said Buckley. “When he gets pulled over he panics and makes an even worse decision.”
Buckley said Jeffery came clean fairly quickly when the sergeant called his bluff.
Bouchard said the Crown dropped the charge of obstruction of a peace officer because he only had a single prior conviction.
“The Crown’s submission is a $1500 fine and six months probation,” he said. Jeffery’s prior conviction was an impaired driving charge.
A series of conditions allow Harrison to drive in a limited capacity for work and medical emergencies.