Man who held truck driver at gunpoint along Highway 5 could face up to eight years behind bars | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops News

Man who held truck driver at gunpoint along Highway 5 could face up to eight years behind bars

KAMLOOPS - A man who held a transport truck driver at gunpoint for nearly four hours and forced him to drive him in order to escape police last November could face seven years and eight months in prison.

Crown Prosecutor Bonnie Macdonald submitted her sentencing submissions today, Dec. 18, in B.C. Supreme Court for David Lee Chappell, born 1983, who faces numerous charges including kidnapping, using an imitation firearm, robbery and flight from police after a series of events that took place along Highway 5 last fall from Avola to Kamloops.

Macdonald says it all started at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2017,  when an RCMP officer noticed a grey Dodge Caravan idling at the Wire Cache rest area south of Avola with its right blinker flashing. The officer noticed the driver slumped over behind the steering wheel and appeared unconscious. The officer approached the driver side window which was slightly opened and began to speak to the man who did not respond.

The officer began yelling and poked the man through the driver side window who eventually woke up and appeared impaired.

The constable asked the man to exit the vehicle and says she noticed he had red eyes and was complaining he felt "heavy." There was also a strong smell of gasoline from the vehicle, Macdonald said.

The officer said she needed to conduct a roadside test and placed the man in the back of her cruiser with the window open because the accused said he felt claustrophobic.

"Unfortunately the officer also forgot to lock the door," MacDonald said. 

The officer asked the accused for his name but when he gave it she was doubtful he gave the correct name so she returned to the vehicle he was driving to retrieve his ID. She opened the side sliding door of the van and discovered several stolen IDs as well as a "significant amount of stuff" including a gas canister and tubing.

When she returned to the accused, she told him he was under arrest and he resisted.

Macdonald said the accused managed to escape and get back in the van he was driving and took off on Highway 5 heading northbound with the side door still open. The constable followed from behind with her lights and sirens off to prevent the accused from speeding.

The constable says she noticed the accused swerving as he drove and his speed was varied from 90 to 148 kilometres an hour. Civilians began calling into police to report a van driving erratically with the side door open with several items falling out including a suitcase.

One witness reported seeing the accused with a gun in his hand. 

The accused pulled over at a rest stop in Blue River and approached a transport truck that was also pulled over at the stop. Chappell approached the driver and told him to open the door and get out. When the driver refused, Chappell pulled out a silver CO2 BB gun pistol and smashed the window and unlocked the door himself. The driver fell to the ground and asked Chappell not to take his truck. 

When Chappell attempted to start the truck, he couldn't get the transport truck in motion. The driver told Chappell his truck had broken down and he was waiting for help. 

Chappell then proceeded to run to the other side of the highway where there was another rest stop with another transport truck pulled over. Chappell approached the driver, Robert Price, and told him he needed a ride. Price told Chappell he was no longer driving and would be going to sleep.

Macdonald said Chappell told Price, "No, I don't think you understand,"  and pulled out the same imitation silver pistol he had threatened the other driver with and asked him "are you a friend or a foe?"

According to Price's statements to police, he was under the impression the gun was real and was not going to "give a guy with a gun his truck."

Chappell climbed into the passenger seat and Price began driving heading southbound on Highway 5 with an officer following behind from a long distance.

After about 45 minutes, Price received a phone call from his boss with an RCMP negotiator on the other line who was relaying messages to the Emergency Response Team.

The two continued to drive for nearly three and a half hours. During this time Price said Chappell was falling asleep and waking up several times.

Police were preparing for a high-risk takedown at a truck weigh scale outside of Kamloops on Highway 5. Price asked Chappell if he could pull over since he was driving a transport truck. The accused nodded off again and Price pulled into the scale and exited the truck and ran to safety where police were waiting.

Officers from the Emergency Response Team shot six of the truck's tires and had two snipers in position on Chappell. Officers ordered Chappell to get out of the truck. When he did not comply, officers deployed tear gas into the cab of the truck.

Chappell then decided to jump behind the wheel and began driving the truck but quickly lost control after approximately 100 metres and rolled the truck into an embankment.

Court heard Chappell then got out of the truck with a duffel bag and began walking away. Police told him to stop and get on the ground and when he did not comply, officers deployed two police dogs and the accused was bitten on his calves and arrested.

Chappell pleaded guilty to 10 counts stemming from the Nov. 6, 2017 incident. Chappell's defence lawyer, Alexander Watt, will enter his sentencing submissions tomorrow, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 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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