RCMP provide testimony in Gentles’ B.C. Supreme Court trial

Williams Lake man accused of killing one young woman and injuring another while driving in 2012 cried in an RCMP cruiser after his arrest.

A Williams Lake man accused of killing one young woman and injuring another while driving in 2012 cried in the back of an RCMP cruiser after being arrested, a Supreme Court Justice heard this week.

Martin William Michael Gentles, 30, faces several charges including dangerous and impaired driving causing the death of Rayel MacDonald and bodily harm to Alysha Mullett, and failure to stop at an accident involving a person.

Gentles was charged after an incident on April 22, 2012, when both young women were attempting to cross Carson Drive with a group of friends after attending the Indoor Rodeo Dance and were struck by a pickup truck.

During the B.C. Supreme Court Trial in Williams Lake, which began Monday before Justice John D. Truscott, nine RCMP officers are expected to testify.

On the first two days of trial, the Crown called Const. James MacKinnon and Staff Sgt. Ken Brissard to the stand.

Both testified they were the first officers to have contact with Gentles.

MacKinnon said that on the night in question, at around 2:10 a.m., he left the Cariboo Memorial Complex to conduct patrols outside a local pub.

When he left Proctor Street and headed onto Fifth Avenue North travelling toward Carson Drive, he observed a dark pickup truck narrowly miss the right hand side curb as it turned onto Fifth Avenue from Carson.

He testified the truck was travelling at an estimated speed of 80 km an hour.

MacKinnon said he made a three-point turn and pursued the truck.

During his testimony, Brissard testified he was located a block away near Fourth Avenue North and Cameron Street when he saw the small pickup “fish tail” around the corner of Proctor Street and head north toward his direction.

Brissard said he made a U-turn and pursued the truck up Fourth Avenue and left down Cameron Street.

When he attempted to overtake the truck on Third Avenue North, Brissard said the driver suddenly pulled over and parked on the side of the road.

Brissard testified that he walked up to the driver side of the vehicle and asked the driver, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” and instructed him to shut off the vehicle and produce his driver’s license.

Brissard said that, soon afterwards, Gentles made a statement that caught him off guard.

“He stated, ‘There was about 17 of them, they jumped out, I couldn’t stop,’” the officer said.

The comment prompted Brissard to look toward the front of the truck, where he could see some damage to the hood area.

“I then moved around to the front,” Brissard said during testimony. “At that point, I could see the grill was essentially smashed right out and there were just bits and pieces. Gentles then said, ‘Oh, that happened last week.’”

At about that same time, Brissard turned his police radio on and realized “it was alive” with activity, he recalled in court.

“I could tell by the demeanour of the voices on the radio that something serious had transpired,” Brissard said.

Brissard said he then radioed in that he had a vehicle and there had been an admission.

According to his testimony, MacKinnon, who was now travelling up Second Avenue North, heard Brissard’s message and headed to where Brissard and Gentles were parked. When he arrived, he noticed Const. Colin Champagne was on the scene and was speaking with the passenger.

Brissard testified he left MacKinnon in charge, then proceeded to the scene at Carson Drive.

MacKinnon testified after he administered an approved screening device test for blood alcohol and it failed, he placed the suspect in the back seat of the police vehicle and transported him to the RCMP detachment.

“As we’re driving he doesn’t say anything further he just cries in the back of the car,” MacKinnon told the court.

Evidence given by the officers is part of a voir dire, a trial within a trial, to determine what evidence will be admissible.

By at Thursday noon, RCMP Sgt. Dean Robinson, Constables Champagne and Henderson, and now retired Corp. Thomas Erickson had provided testimony.

It is anticipated that civilian witnesses and a toxicologist will be called in as witnesses next week as the trial continues.