September 26, 2016 - 9:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - A man who pleaded guilty to spitting on a police officer will spend another seven months behind bars, while the Mountie spends the next six months getting checked for Hepatitis C.
Graham Penner, 45, pleaded guilty in Kamloops Provincial Court today, Sept. 26, where he received his 124th conviction on record. Penner is contagious with Hepatitis C.
Court heard a woman in the North Shore area of Kamloops called police on Aug. 17 to report an intoxicated man yelling and trying to start fights with people.
Police attended the general area and the complainant gave a detailed description of the suspect. Officers patrolled Tranquille Road and found a man matching the description across from a liquor store.
The suspect was on a bike and rode it to the parking lot of the Holiday Inn, where he began wobbling and eventually fell off.
Court heard an officer went over to the suspect, told him he was under arrest for being intoxicated in public and tried to put him in the back of the cruiser.
Penner tried to resist and struggled with the officer outside of the car until a bottle of vodka fell out.
The officer seated Penner in the back of the cruiser but he refused to put his feet inside the vehicle. While the officer tried to force his feet in, Penner spat in his face and told him he was infected with Hepatitis C.
The Mountie eventually got Penner into the back of the car while he waited for back-up to arrive. A short time later, the officer looked inside the cruiser and noticed Penner had slipped his handcuffed arms from behind his back.
He pulled out another bottle of vodka while lying in the back seat and began drinking it.
The officer approached the car to stop him, but Penner spat on him again. He repeatedly told the officer he would be infected with Hepatitis C.
Police looked into the claim and found Penner is infected with the contagious virus. The officer who was spat on now has to go for monthly check-ups to see if he is infected, although doctors say it's not likely.
"There's nevertheless a risk present," Crown prosecutor Andrew Duncan said.
Court heard this isn't the first time Penner has assaulted a police officer. Out of his many prior convictions, five of them were for assaulting a police officer.
Defence lawyer Eric Rines told the court Penner has social anxiety, and has been self-medicating with alcohol since his diagnosis five years ago.
Judge Roy Dickey sentenced Penner to nine months behind bars, but with credit for time served he will be in prison for another seven months.
He's also been placed on a one year probation after his sentence is complete. He won't be allowed to consume alcohol or be around liquor stores or bars.
Penner will also have to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.
"I think there is significant hope for rehabilitation," Dickey said. "The probation order's for a year, but I hope you go (to Alcoholics Anonymous) for the rest of your life."
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