February 12, 2016 - 1:00 PM
KELOWNA – The judge wasn’t convinced it was Paul Harrison who tried to rob the downtown Safeway last spring, but he did endanger lives when police tried to pull him over later that afternoon.
Around 1 p.m. on April 4, 2015 a hooded man walked into the Safeway on the corner of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street. He approached the first till and demanded money from the teller.
Crown lawyer Andrew Vandersluys said during the trial that at first the teller thought he was joking. Judge Lisa Wyatt summarized the facts before giving her decision in Kelowna court Thursday, Feb. 11
“She initially thought it was a prank and said no,” Wyatt said. “Then he threatened her. This is when she realized it was serious.”
Around that time a customer alerted another teller that something was happening.
“(The second teller) saw a distraught look on (the victim's) face… and saw a man go around behind her till… then walked away briskly.”
She followed the suspect out the door and saw him get into a small, red car and quickly drive away.
“His manner of driving caused traffic to stop,” Wyatt said.
Police were called and approximately one hour later, two officers told dispatch they were stopped at the intersection of Springfield Road and Dilworth Road and the suspect car was in the oncoming lane. Once the light turned green, the officers did a U-turn and began following.
As they headed west, the officers noticed the suspect looking at them through the rearview mirror and decided to make a traffic stop. When their lights and sirens went on, the suspect sped north on Spall Road and turned onto Harvey Avenue.
“As it made that turn the driver threw a knife out the window,” Wyatt said.
In his effort to get away, the driver also pulled the driver's side tires onto the median to get around a tow truck at the same time the officers saw a purse thrown out the window.
After retrieving the purse and the contents, the officers continued pursuit. They were advised to abort the chase when the Echo was seen travelling 90 km/h in a 50 km/h zone with cars parked on both sides of the road.
Some time later, another RCMP officer came upon the red Echo at a Money Mart on Gordon and Harvey and pulled his SUV behind, blocking him in. Paul Harrison was arrested in the front seat of the car and taken into custody.
The teller told police the suspect who tried to rob her was blond with blue eyes, however Harrison has brown hair and brown eyes. Because she was the only witness who saw his face, Wyatt acquitted him of attempted robbery but found him guilty of dangerous driving.
Harrison, 39, has a criminal history across B.C. He has prior convictions of possession for the purpose of trafficking, theft under $5,000 and impaired driving in 2002 and 2009.
He will be sentenced later this month.
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