West Kelowna man accused of leading police on dangerous chase gets bail in part because of COVID-19 - InfoNews

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West Kelowna man accused of leading police on dangerous chase gets bail in part because of COVID-19

Kelowna Law Courts.
April 29, 2020 - 6:30 PM

An Alberta man who has been in custody since he led West Kelowna Mounties on a wild chase in 2019 is among a growing number of inmates released on bail due in part to COVID-19.

Cody Sylvester Janvier-Charland, 24, is awaiting a July 13 trial in Kelowna and he’s been in custody since being arrested May 25, 2019 on a long list of charges including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle,  flight from a peace officer, possession of a prohibited firearm, occupying a motor vehicle knowing there was a prohibited firearm, possession of a stolen vehicle of a value in excess of $5,000.

Janvier-Charland earned the attention of local police at 11 p.m. on May 25, 2019, when West Kelowna RCMP was notified of the theft of a grey Ford F350 truck with Alberta licence plates.

The description of the stolen truck matched a truck that was observed by a West Kelowna RCMP officer and an officer then turned on the cruiser's emergency lights.

“Instead of stopping, the truck took off at a high rate of speed, leading to significant police involvement,” Justice Gary Weatherill said in a bail hearing decision published online.

“Efforts by various members of the West Kelowna and Kelowna RCMP detachments to corner and stop the truck were unsuccessful.”

The driver of the stolen truck was then allegedly able to out-maneuver the police by making U-turns, swerving around roadblocks, avoiding spike belts, and generally outrunning the police who were not inclined to engage in a chase.

“Ultimately, the truck drove down a dead-end road in West Kelowna and became high-centred after attempting to drive through a field,” Weatherill said. “The truck was swarmed by a number of police officers with their guns drawn.”

Janvier-Charland, and a passenger, the co-accused, Benjamin Grandbois, eventually exited the truck after heeding the officers' demands to do so.

They were both arrested without further incident, with guns and drugs being found within the vehicle. From start to finish, the entire incident lasted just under one hour.

Janvier-Charland was on bail at the time of the arrest for an incident in Alberta that he has since pleaded guilty to.

While he doesn’t have a storied criminal history, the Crown argued unsuccessfully that the West Kelowna incident indicated he is unwilling or unable to abide by court-imposed conditions. The protection and safety of the public as a whole require that Janvier-Charland continue to be detained.

Weatherill, in granting bail, noted that the charges Janvier-Charland faces are serious and, if convicted, will land him with a long prison sentence.

“Respecting the COVID-19 issue, I conclude that despite B.C. Corrections' best efforts, the protections put in place to protect the inmate population at (Okanagan Correctional Centre) have not been able to keep the virus from infiltrating the facility,” Weatehrhill said in a decision made after the first and, to date, only case of COVID-19 at the Okanagan Correctional Centre was found.

“The accused and other inmates are kept in confined spaces where protocols for physical distancing are far more difficult to implement, making the risk to the inmate population significantly higher than on the outside.”

He added that Janvier-Charland is in a lower risk category than elderly people but the pandemic was, nonetheless, a factor that must be considered in balancing whether or not to release him.

“The COVID-19 cases discussed earlier are, I suspect, the leading edge of the wedge on cases yet to come. I suspect that over the following days and weeks to follow, there will be an avalanche of similar cases dealing with the point,” he said.

He also wrote that the accused’s mother said she would be a strict jailer of her son, and will ensure the very strict conditions that will be put in place as part of the release order, including 24-hour house arrest, will be complied with and that if there is any breach, she will immediately report to the RCMP.

“Balancing all the factors in this case, and although I can tell you it was a close call, I am persuaded, particularly because the COVID-19 has now spread to (Okanagan Correctional Centre), and because of what I consider to be an appropriate release plan, that Mr. Janvier-Charland has met the onus on him,” Weatherill said.

“I am satisfied that his release plan will adequately address the otherwise very serious concerns I have... and that his continued detention is not necessary.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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