PENTICTON - A man who has spent the better part of his life either in custody or on probation will spend the next eight and a half years in jail following sentencing for a crime spree that spanned several days and resulted in a police standoff in Oliver last December.
Dillon John Andre Cote was sentenced to six years imprisonment following a drug-fuelled string of crimes that started with a shoplifting incident and ended with a police standoff on an Oliver property that required the RCMP to use gas to force Cote’s surrender.
Cote entered guilty pleas to one count of shoplifting, two counts of car theft and one count of robbery over connected incidents in December, 2016.
Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerechs told court two suspects, a man and a woman, were accused of shoplifting roughly $60 worth of sushi and energy bars from the Real Canadian Superstore in Cranbrook on Dec. 13, 2016.
Penticton RCMP were able to identify the man as Cote two days later, after he and his female accomplice were identified as suspects in a car theft, again in Cranbrook.
Cote and his accomplice had been on the side of the road looking for a ride when a Cranbrook woman picked them up two days in a row.
On the second day, the woman offered the two a ride, invited them into her home, fed them and gave them a place to sleep.
Sometime overnight, Cote and his accomplice took the woman’s Ford Focus. Their beds had been made to look they were still sleeping in them, and the woman did not discover the theft until morning.
Later on the same morning, Dec. 14, 2016, Grand Forks police were notified of a collision near Christina Lake.
A Ford Focus matching the description of the stolen car was found in the ditch, badly damaged and with both front airbags deployed.
In the car, police found a jewellery box and a baseball bat.
Coins and papers belonging to the Cranbrook woman’s son were also found, as were fingerprints belonging to Cote.
Around 8 a.m. police received reports of a man in Rock Creek who reported his Ford F150 pickup stolen after he picked up two people involved in a collision near Christina Lake.
The man had driven Cote and his accomplice to Rock Creek, where he stopped to go to the washroom. When he came out, his truck was gone.
At 8:17 a.m., Osoyoos RCMP received word of a pick up truck off the road on Highway 3 on Anarchist Mountain, in addition to reports of another vehicle theft, this time involving a woman who was taking her kids to school.
She told police she had stopped after a Ford pickup went off the road, plunging down a 50 foot embankment.
The man and woman who had been inside the truck asked for a ride to the hospital, as his girlfriend had been hurt in the collision.
As they approached the van, Cote heard the woman speaking to police on the phone.
He asked if he could speak to them as well, but when the woman handed him her phone, he threw it away and grabbed her, telling her to get out of the van.
He forced the children out as well, and headed westbound on Highway 3.
Police later found the woman’s van in front of the South Okanagan General Hospital.
While investigating another matter, Oliver RCMP discovered Cote was staying in a garage at a residence in the town.
By this time, a Canada-wide warrant for Cote’s arrest had been issued for a parole violation.
Oliver RCMP and the Emergency Response Team descended on an Oliver residence on the evening of Dec. 14.
A loud hailer was used, which resulted in other occupants of the residence exiting, but Cote and his accomplice remained inside.
After several hours of negotiations failed, the two were forced out after a gas capsule was fired into the residence around 4 a.m. on Dec. 15.
Lerechs told court Cote had a lengthy criminal record, with 46 convictions, including six prior break and enters, six theft convictions, and two robbery convictions that had cost him four and three years imprisonment consecutively.
Calling his record “horrendous,” Lerechs said the 23-year-old also had numerous drug offences in a criminal file dating back to his early teens.
Defence lawyer Robert Maxwell said his client’s parents both suffered from addictions, giving Cote up to the ministry and foster homes at the age of four.
HIs father was an addict who also had an extensive criminal history, and Cote spent most of his teenage years either in custody or on probation.
He served a lengthy jail term in Matsqui for crimes committed in Prince George, and had spent some time in a halfway house before going to Cranbrook where he restarted his crime cycle.
He had been high on crack cocaine and methamphetamine, with no sleep for seven days prior to initiating his December crime spree.
“He wrote to me, ‘I’ve done many thoughtless crimes, but this one with the woman and children has really bothered me. I’m not proud, I feel ashamed for doing it. I hope they’ll consider taking a letter of apology for the grief my actions have caused. It’s the least I can do,’” Maxwell said, adding from the looks of Cote’s record, he’s probably spent more time in than out of prison in his life so far.
Maxwell asked for a five year sentence, consecutive to the remainder of the sentence Cote will be expected to serve as a result of his warrant, which expires in December of 2019.
Judge Gale Sinclair noted “at least two people who wouldn’t be good samaritans anymore” as a result of Cote’s betrayals of trust, sentencing Cote to a total of six years imprisonment.
Cote will serve the remainder of his previous sentence first, meaning today’s sentence will not start until after his present sentence ends in December, 2019.
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