PENTICTON The fourth man involved in a Naramata crime spree was sentenced in Penticton Provincial court today, Oct. 27.
Damian Tyler Baptiste entered guilty pleas to two counts of possession of stolen property and breach of bail conditions, charges stemming from incidents occurring on December 29, 2014.
He will serve 45 days of an intermittent prison term and 15 months probation for his part in the crime spree, which took place in Penticton and Naramata.
Crown Prosecutor Kurt Froehlich told court police were alerted to be on the lookout for a Dodge pickup truck stolen from a Naramata residence that day. Just before 11 a.m., police spotted a similar vehicle at the McDonalds drive through on Main Street. There were two men in hoodies in the front seat and other passengers in the back.
Police activated lights and sirens, but the vehicle fled, driving through the industrial park and accelerating rapidly. Police withdrew from the chase.
At approximately 4 p.m., a 1990 blue Nissan was reported stolen from a Naramata residence, heading to Penticton. Police responding to that theft were approached by a neighbour, who reported a nearby break in to his residence where tools and other items were reported missing.
Four males were witnessed loading chain saws and air guns into a blue Nissan, then heading in the direction of Chute Lake.
Police followed the suspects, driving into two-foot deep snow and winter conditions.
At approximately 10 p.m., they noticed the vehicle’s tail lights on the KVR trail. Two occupants in the vehicle, including Baptiste, were arrested at gun point. The other occupants of the truck were located close by, in the vicinity of Chute Lake Lodge.
The truck’s ignition system had been tampered with and the transmission damaged after attempts were made to free the vehicle, which was stuck in snow.
Froehlich told court Baptiste had an alcohol problem and was suffering from a crystal meth addiction at the time of the incident. The 24-year-old never drove during the incident, court heard. He had two previous convictions on his record.
The two other co-accused had previously been sentenced in June to jail time.
Froehlich asked Judge Meg Shaw to consider a four-month prison term for Baptiste, along with 18 months probation that included a no-contact order with the co-accused, and theft victims. Baptiste would also have to abstain from alcohol and illicit substances, not be allowed to possess weapons and take counselling.
Defence lawyer Norm Yates told court Baptiste was encouraged by friends to ride with them that day, pointing out Baptiste was not the instigator.
Yates said Baptiste paid for his own counsel through his own savings and pled guilty in early stages of the legal process. Yates said Baptiste was remorseful and had written two letters of apology to his victims.
Yates suggested Baptiste’s substance abuse issues needed to be addressed in a probation order, asking court for probation without incarceration.
Shaw, after noting Baptiste is currently employed, handed down a 45-day, intermittent jail sentence to be served on weekends. The sentences will run concurrently. He is also subject to 15 months probation, and will have to pay $400 in victim surcharge fees by April 29, 2016.
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