A 32-year-old man appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court Thursday, who was sentenced in 2014 for dangerous driving causing death. File image

Prohibited driver arrested in McLeese Lake

The 32-year-old man drove an RV erratically and attempted to flee from police

A man sentenced in 2014 for dangerous driving causing the death of an 18-year-old teen in Edmonton was arrested on Monday, Aug. 6 in McLeese Lake, B.C.

Derrick Francis O’Connor, 32, appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court on Thursday, Aug. 9.

He faces one charge of assault, one charge of operating a motor vehicle while disqualified and one charge of breach of probation.

Crown Counsel Haydn Shook described the incident that led to O’Connor’s arrest in McLeese Lake saying the allegations he faces began on Aug. 6 in the morning when an RV was noted to be driving erratically south to McLeese Lake and tailgating another vehicle.

The RV pulled into the McLeese Lake Store, drove through the parking lot in a manner that caused individuals in the parking lot concern, Shook said, noting when a local resident yelled out to the driver to “slow down,” O’Connor, who was driving the RV, engaged in a verbal altercation and then challenged the resident to a fight.

The resident declined, and O’Connor allegedly placed his hand on the resident and then slapped him on the face, causing his glasses to fall off his face, Shook said.

“Mr. O’Connor then got back into the RV, drove a short distance onto another property. He drove through a barbed wire fence, got out of the RV, and when police attended, Mr. O’Connor got into a boat on the lake,” Shook said, noting O’Connor was attempting to start the boat and flee police when an officer waded into the water, grabbed the rope attached to the boat and pulled O’Connor ashore.

Shook said O’Connor was noted to have the smell of liquor on his breath, that he was arrested, and when police searched the RV, which was registered to O’Connor, they located a woman in the RV who was intoxicated, and discovered a number of open liquor cans.

Shook said he was concerned that O’Connor’s record shows that almost all of his past offences are related to driving.

“Specifically in 2014 there is a dangerous driving causing death for which Mr. O’Connor received a 38-month sentence, as well as a lengthy period of probation,” Shook told the court. “That probation started on November 2016 and runs until November 2019 and is an order out of Edmonton. Ms. Thompson from our office spoke to a probation officer in Edmonton who said Mr. O’Connor has been abiding by his conditions for the most part.”

Provincial Court Judge Peter Whyte granted O’Connor an interim release on conditions proposed by the Crown.

O’Connor must keep the peace and good behaviour, must have no contact with the McLeese Lake resident he had the altercation with on Aug. 6, or go within 10 metres of his home or place of work.

He must report to a bail supervisor in Williams Lake and in Edmonton, and inform them of any changes of residency or phone number.

He cannot possess alcohol or drugs, with the exception of medical subscriptions, and must not occupy the driver’s seat of any motor vehicle.

O’Connor must also provide a copy of his bail order to any peace officer that asks to see his driver’s licence.

His father Lawrence O’Connor, who lives in Williams Lake, attended the court and agreed to post a $2,000 surety.

Whyte told Lawrence his role will be his son’s jailer in the community.

“Your role here is to ensure he abides by those conditions,” Whyte said. “If you are aware that he is violating any of these conditions you must render him to the authorities. It’s not a question of him asking for a second chance or not. If you become aware, that’s your obligation.”

Surety bail is the most stringent term of release, Whyte added.

“Blood is thick, but the court and the law is thicker in the case,” he said.

Defence counsel Sandra Mandanici, appeared by telephone, and said while O’Connor lives in Alberta he is in Williams Lake on a regular basis. He is presently getting counselling in Edmonton.

“He is going to be following these conditions,” Mandanici said.

O’Connor’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 15 in Williams Lake Provincial Court.


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