How an innovative approach to curbing a Vernon bike thief failed | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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How an innovative approach to curbing a Vernon bike thief failed

October 04, 2019 - 6:00 AM

VERNON - A provincial court judge has dismissed an innovative approach to bicycle theft which would have barred a convicted bike thief from owning more than one bicycle.

Justice Andrew Tam rejected the probation condition put forward by Crown counsel, who argued that convicted bike thief Patrick Bodie Gifford should be restricted to owning only one bicycle, which would have to be registered with the RCMP.

Crown lawyer Brock Bellrichard put forward the restrictive bike ownership requirement at the Vernon courthouse, Oct 2. 

Bellrichard told the court Vernon was dealing with a large number of bike thefts and the condition would be beneficial.

While the judge dismissed the idea without much deliberation, Gifford was barred from owning tools as part of a 12-month probation order and got jail time.

The court heard how the 25-year-old used bolt cutters to steal a bike during the day from the roof of an SUV parked in the parking lot of the Days Inn Hotel in Vernon, Aug. 8. The bike was worth $800 and was never recovered.

In another incident, Gifford has also caught on surveillance footage carrying bolt cutters, which was against an earlier probation order.

Police had identified Gifford from surveillance footage and on Aug. 22 went to arrest him at the Linear Park in Vernon. Before Gifford could be arrested, he took off on a bicycle, although he was later picked up by police behind the Lincoln Lanes bowling alley on 25 Ave. He has remained in custody since.

Gifford has a lengthy criminal record largely involving theft as well as drug possession, assaulting a police officer and breaching probation orders.

The court heard how Gifford had moved to Vernon three years earlier because his mother lived here, but had spent the time living in and out of shelters or on the street.

Defence lawyer Tiffany Zanatta said Gifford had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had been the victim of a "significant assault" in 2017 that had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and he now lived "with a significant amount of fear."

The defence lawyer said Gifford has been using crystal meth since he was 19 years old and starting using heroin two years ago.

Zanatta said while this not an excuse for Gifford's crimes his drug use did explain them.

Gifford pled guilty to charges of theft, obstructing a peace officer, and breaching an earlier probation order.

"I apologize for taking the bike," Gifford told the judge via video screen. "I realize that I want to get my life together."

The Crown asked for 100 days jail time, plus 12 months probation and a restriction on bike ownership.

The judge agreed with the Crown, with the exception of the bike ownership condition.

With the time already served, Gifford will spend another 38 days behind bars.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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