KAMLOOPS - A 54-year-old man who went on a criminal rampage throughout the province before he was caught by police in Kamloops will be imprisoned for 42 months, a judge ruled today.
Barrie Quirt Friesen was sentenced today in Kamloops provincial court on 21 counts throughout Vancouver, Oliver, Cache Creek, Sicamous, Midway and Kamloops.
Friesen pleaded guilty on multiple counts including operating a motor vehicle while disqualified, theft of a motor vehicle, failure to appear, possession of stolen property and care or control of a vehicle while impaired.
Crown prosecutor Michael Wong described the events yesterday leading to Friesen's sentence, saying multiple times he took advantage of people during his crimes.
The spree began in June in Vancouver, when Friesen was busted at a traffic stop with suspicious plates. He refused to provide a sample when an officer noticed liquor on his breath. His license was suspended at the time and he was prohibited from driving.
That was just the beginning. In another instance, Friesen was caught with a stolen Pontiac Sunfire, saying he had 'borrowed' the vehicle. However, it had been reported stolen and was needed to transport a person with disabilities. In July, he stole someone's keys off the counter at a party and took off with their vehicle.
In September, he was caught by police after swerving all over the road while impaired. Police determined he was driving a stolen vehicle, but he was released the next day. Only a few days later he reoffended — this time, he hitched a ride with a stranger only to steal their vehicle while stopped for a bite to eat together. The man had left his keys in the vehicle as well as his wallet in the glove compartment. Friesen took off with the vehicle and later tried to rip off the man at a cheque-cashing store.
"This person had actually come into the same cheque-cashing place," Wong said.
Warrants were issued and the search was on for Friesen. On Sept. 22, he was spotted with the stolen vehicle at the Petro Canada on Versatile Drive with the hood up. He left the gas station but was found by police that night.
"He was compliant and he was arrested without incident," Wong said.
He noted that there was no damage to the vehicles.
"He takes the keys," Wong said. "He takes advantage of that generosity."
Wong asked for a sentence of four years for all charges adding this is nothing knew for Friesen who has 45 prior theft related convictions and 12 impaired driving convictions.
Defence lawyer Don Campbell said the spree was fuelled by alcohol addiction and requested a sentence six months less than the Crown's.
"Alcohol has been a problem since he has been working in the oil patch when he was 21," Campbell said of the Grande Prairie native. "He has never had treatment. He wants to get treatment. Basically he's replicating the same kind of behaviour."
Provincial court Judge Roy Dickey said sentencing Friesen for each individual charge could amount to a 'harsh' punishment for the spree and emphasized rehabilitation. He sentenced Friesen to 43.5 months for the combined charges with 45 days credited since he's been in custody. He also prohibited him from driving for 15 years.
"You still will have to do 42 months new (time)," he said.
"He's never had treatment for his alcohol addiction before and this is something he should receive while in custody," Dickey said. "He also will require follow-up in the community."
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