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Jail for Kelowna man who put his hand down the pants of stranger asleep on an airplane

February 24, 2017 - 6:30 PM

"THE BUTTON WAS UNDONE AND HER PANTS WERE DOWN QUITE A BIT."

KELOWNA – A Kelowna man will spend most of his weekends this year in jail for sexually assaulting a passed out stranger on an airplane in 2015.

Flight attendants on a WestJet flight from Fort McMurray first noticed John Andrew Shewchuk, 64, when he was boarding their plane for Kelowna.

He was stumbling and leaning on walls and smelled of alcohol, Crown lawyer Cory Laboucane told Kelowna court today, Feb. 24. The two female flight attendants allowed him on board but alerted other crew to “keep an eye on him.”

Shewchuk was seated next to a 34-year-old woman also returning from work in Fort McMurray. LaBoucane said the exhausted woman was asleep in her seat after having drinks at the airport with a friend.

During passenger service, one of the flight attendants saw Shewchuk with his hands down the front of her pants, which had been unbuttoned.

“The pants were down in such a fashion (she) could see the skin on her stomach,” LaBoucane said. “The button was undone and her pants were down quite a bit.”

After the flight attendants forced Shewchuk to change seats, they notified the pilot who called police.

Police interviewed both Shewchuk and the victim on the plane after other passengers disembarked and judge Robin Smith heard Shewchuk’s attitude described as “nonchalant.”

He denied touching the woman to police but pleaded guilty to sexual assault last summer.

Shewchuk has multiple convictions on his record, including one in Kelowna in 2001 for impaired driving causing death for which he spent two years in jail. He was on parole at the time for another drunk driving conviction in Salmon Arm in 2000. He has no prior sex-related charges.

“Most of his previous convictions were as a result of his consumption of alcohol,” LaBoucane said and asked for a sentence of six months in jail.

Shewchuck’s lawyer Ian McTavish says the incident has been a wake-up call for his client who hasn’t had a drink since.

"This has hit him like a Mack truck. The death didn’t do that, the driving continued. It didn’t stop him from drinking. This has stopped him from drinking.”

Smith refused to consider McTavish's request for a suspended sentence.

“He’s going to jail for this,” Smith said. “People can’t just say ‘oh I was drunk.’ Especially someone who’s been convicted seven times with drinking and driving offences and even killing someone."

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail to be served on weekends followed by probation. His name has also been added to the national sex offender database.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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