An Estevan man will serve jail time after leading police on a high-speed chase on Highway 39 that ended in a head-on collision.
A joint submission agreed upon by the Crown and defence was presented to presiding Judge James Benison, which called for Justin Yakimchuk’s incarceration for 18 months. The 19-year-old Yakimchuk was in custody on Monday at Estevan provincial court, and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm, evading peace officers, theft, assault and a number of breaches of his conditions.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Davis described the events from March 3 that saw Yakimchuk steal a taxi van and lead Estevan police on a pursuit that reached speeds of 175 kilometres per hour.
Police were alerted to the stolen car at about 1:30 a.m. and located it before Yakimchuk fled the scene behind the wheel. The pursuit lasted until the vehicles passed Halbrite, and the Weyburn RCMP were called in to assist.
“The vehicle was driving very fast and very erratic, passing other vehicles,” said Davis.
Things came to a head, added Davis, when Yakimchuk was passing another vehicle north of Halbrite and drove head-on into an oncoming car. There were two occupants in the oncoming vehicle, a man and woman. Davis said the injuries they suffered were not life threatening but significant.
The male had a broken sternum, and the woman had experienced several cuts, including some around her eyes. Yakimchuk was found to be impaired by both alcohol and cocaine and broke his ankle in the collision.
“He was evidently suicidal and may have been attempting to take his own life in the course of this, obviously with total disregard for other people,” said Davis. “Mr. Yakimchuk, by his actions, caused significant risk to the public, including the officers who tried to pursue him. He could very conceivably cause serious harm or death to himself or somebody else.”
Yakimchuk’s Legal Aid lawyer Greg Wilson noted his client was going through a “very rough” time in his life.
When paramedics attended the scene, Yakimchuk threw his phone at one of them.
In his sentencing, Benison appeared tentative to accept the 18-month sentence.
“The sentence that has been proposed here today is not necessarily the sentence that I would have imposed without the joint submission,” he said. “I have some serious concerns about the danger that was caused to the public in this case, however taking all of the circumstances of the case, and the fact that Mr. Yakimchuk, you are still young, I find that the proposed sentence is appropriate.”
Following the 18-month jail term, Yakimchuk will be subject to a 12-month probation period and will be under a driving prohibition for two years.
In other court proceedings, Randy Clark was sentenced to a federal penitentiary term of two years plus a day after pleading guilty to fraud, forgery and theft.
Clark has a lengthy criminal record of related offences and was recently sentenced in Estevan at the end of June to a conditional sentence order for similar charges.
Davis told the court Clark aided a young person in stealing his landlady’s chequebook and acting as co-signer so the young man could open accounts in two local banks.
Two cheques were then deposited in the youth’s name and withdrawn immediately from the accounts. The total amount withdrawn was $1,485.20.
Benison asked Clark if he wished to say anything before passing sentence, and Clark replied, “No, I just want to get on with it and get back to my cell.”
Benison accepted the submissions and sentenced Clark to two years plus a day in a federal penitentiary.
In court proceedings from July 26, Norman and Dorothy Desautels appeared in court for a trial for failing to appear at a previous sentencing. The married couple were found guilty of tax evasion earlier this year and sentenced to jail time, one year for Norman and six months for Dorothy.
The couple appeared on July 26 in prison-issued clothing and handcuffs.
While they had previously represented themselves for their other court appearances, they both had an administrator in court to represent them for their trials. That was their intent.
Dean Clifford, who is not a lawyer, stepped forward in a T-shirt and shorts with his hair tied in a tight ponytail and sunglasses resting on the top of his head. Before he was able to enter the front of the courtroom, presiding Judge Karl Bazin stopped him, requesting he remove the sunglasses from his head.
“They are fine where they are,” answered Clifford.
Bazin told Clifford he would not allow him to speak for the Desautels if he did not follow the court’s rules.
Clifford conceded and removed the glasses, noting to the judge that he was not doing so because he was obeying a direct order but rather in respect to the “painting on the wall,” referring to the image of Queen Elizabeth II.
When Bazin asked if Clifford would be acting as agent for the Desautels, he said he was not. He told the court he was the administrator of their estate and power of attorney.
Bazin decided not to permit Clifford to represent the Desautels as he was not satisfied the man was acting as agent for the accused.
The Crown gave its evidence, noting the Desautels’ absence from their sentencing and subsequent arrest by RCMP officers, while neither of the Desautels supplied any testimony or argument.
Bazin found them both guilty and ordered a fine of $150 or a one-day concurrent jail term that would be served with their current terms.