VERNON- A high profile shootout in Polson Park broke out after a robbery went south at the Green Valley Motel and the occupant chased the intruders to defend his drug business, the Crown alleged on the first day of Jacob Daniel Lowes’ Supreme Court trial.
Lowes is charged with attempting to murder the alleged robbers, Adrian Dziedzic and Robin Rochemont, with a firearm on Aug. 12, 2014. He is also facing four other firearms-related charges including unlawful possession and recklessly discharging a gun.
Crown counsel Jeremy Guild outlined his case against Lowes this morning, Feb. 14, 2016, as the two-week trial got underway before Justice Peter Rogers.
Rochement and Dziedzic knew drugs were being sold out of room 109 at the Green Valley Motel, which has since shut down, and planned to rob it on Aug. 12, Guild said, noting it was widely known the establishment was a place to buy illicit drugs.
“The robbery did not go as planned,” Guild said.
A shotgun went off in the room, and the robbers then ran into Polson Park, pursued, in the Crown’s theory, by Lowes.
A shooting match followed in Polson Park, during morning rush hour traffic, Guild said.
After the shooting, which left half a dozen or so bullet casings in the park, Lowes went to a nearby corner store for ice cream, Guild said, referencing video surveillance footage that recorded the activity.
The Crown intends to call a number of witnesses, including a cell mate Lowes allegedly confessed to. The cell mate told police Lowes mentioned throwing a handgun into a creek near the park. Investigators followed up on the tip and located a Colt handgun that matched the shell casings in Polson Park.
The Crown says Lowes was involved in the drug trade, and chased the robbers to “show them he would stand up to intimidation to protect his business.”
Lowes was not immediately charged in relation to the shooting. Vernon RCMP announced in July 2015 that Lowes, Rochement and Dziedzic had been arrested in connection with the incident.
Lowes was arrested on another matter — uttering threats — on Aug. 16, 2014. While he was in custody on Aug. 17, police questioned him about his alleged involvement in the Polson Park shooting. Investigators told him he was under investigation for the shooting. Lowes’ statements that day are now the subject of a hearing to determine if they are admissible in court. During the hearing, court heard from Cpl. Scott Hanry who was responsible for reading Lowes a charter script, which included informing him of his right to a lawyer.
Cpl. Hanry testified that he had no concerns with respect to Lowes’ ability to understand the questions he was being asked. He said Lowes appeared to be acting ‘drug sick’ meaning he was possibly withdrawing from drugs. Lowes seemed tired and was not engaged, Hanry said. The corporal also testified that Lowes was calm and cooperative.
Under cross examination with defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen, who is assisted by Paul Danyliu, Hanry said it was possible withdrawal symptoms could make it more difficult for a person to understand questions.
Court also heard testimony from Sgt. Tory Romailler, who arrested Lowes Aug. 28, 2014 on drug, gun and stolen property offences unrelated to the shootout. He advised Lowes he was still under investigation for the incident in Polson Park. Police searched Lowes and found roughly $1,000 in cash on him.
During an audio recording played in court, Romailler can be heard making multiple offers to provide Lowes with a lawyer. Lowes was informed that duty counsel had been contacted on his behalf, but that he could ask for any other lawyer he wanted as well.
The trial continues throughout the week in Vernon Supreme Court.
Rochemont and Dziedzic were ordered to stand trial together following a preliminary inquiry last year. They both face firearm-related charges, according to Crown spokesperson Dan McLaughlin. One of Rochemont's five charges is discharging a prohibited or restricted firearm at Jacob Lowes, with intent to wound, maim or disfigure, or to endanger his life.
Dziedzic faces two charges, including carrying a shotgun for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
Lowes recently pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for punching another inmate in jail.
— This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 2017 to correct charges for Rochemont and Dziedzic.
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