Man who hijacked truck needs rehab not lengthy jail sentence, Kamloops court hears | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Man who hijacked truck needs rehab not lengthy jail sentence, Kamloops court hears

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KAMLOOPS - At one point a man who hijacked a transport truck and held its driver at gunpoint was earning more than $160,000 a year working as a supervisor for a large oil and gas company in Alberta. 

David Lee Chappell, 35, had a wife, two daughters and was a well-respected hardworking man, according to his lawyer Alexander Watt. 

Most of Chappell's criminal behaviour took place over the course of six months, with the majority of them taking place over a few hours — that's why his defence lawyer says a two-year sentence and a three-year probation period with a focus on recovery for a crystal meth addiction seems more fitting than nearly an eight-year sentence proposed by Crown counsel.

Chappell grew up in Nova Scotia and attended college, Watt said in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, Dec. 19. He had a good upbringing and was raised to respect authority.

However, things took a change for Chappell when his wife told him she wanted a separation because he was working too much. The break-up of his family is something that still affects him deeply, Watt said.

"He had a family, lost it and could not put it back together," Watt said.

Chappell 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. 

Shortly after the end of his relationship, Watt said Chappell began to use ecstasy and eventually started smoking half a gram of crystal meth daily.

Court heard the drug helped Chappell work harder and longer. It was also a way to cope with his emotions.

"He had gone from the top, right to the bottom," Watt said, adding his addiction eventually cost him his job.

A few months before Chappell's crime spree in British Columbia, Chappell had a few run-ins with the law in Alberta, including a stealing a $300 electric toothbrush from a Wal-Mart and harassing an ex-girlfriend.

On Nov. 6, 2017, Watt said Chapell was out of crystal meth and was looking for a way to find more. He had borrowed a van from a man he knew. Inside the van, there were several stolen IDs and pieces of mail that Chappell had no idea were there. Watt explained the imitation firearm Chappell used was not his weapon and was also found in the van.

Watt said his client has no memory of the events that took place on Nov. 6, 2017, after a police officer woke him up in the van he was driving. He was going in and out of consciousness and was trying to find a way to get money for more drugs.

"This is classic addict behaviour," Watt said. "The desire and need to get drugs is overwhelming."

Watt said his client is disgusted and ashamed when he is reminded of his behaviour last November.

"There's no way for him to express the shame he feels," Watt said. His client says as long as he never touches drugs again he will be O.K.

Watt explained how a lengthy jail sentence doesn't seem to be working for people who commit crimes because of their addictions.

"It hardly seems fair to be put in custody for nearly eight years for something you had no control over," Watt said.

However, Crown prosecutor Bonnie Macdonald says she does not accept the "no control" element Watt explained. She says the seven years and eight month sentence she is proposing does not eliminate the possibility of rehab for Chappell.

"Being an addict is not like being a diabetic," Macdonald said. "It's not so black and white."

Both defence and Crown lawyers will fix a date for judgment on sentencing on Jan. 14.

Chappell is expected to be sentenced sometime in early February 2019.

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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