Crown offers ‘generous’ plea deal to man who led police on dangerous winter chase on Okanagan Connector

November 17, 2020

A man who rammed multiple police cars during a wild chase on Highway 97C and through West Kelowna and Peachland is being offered a “generous” deal by Crown prosecutors in light of the pandemic.

Dean Peters, 45, appeared Monday in Kelowna court after pleading guilty to multiple charges related to the chase on Nov. 16, 2019.

That day, Peters was behind the wheel of a stolen pickup truck bearing stolen license plates travelling through downtown Westbank at roughly 6 p.m.. When a lone RCMP officer tried to pull him over for driving without tail lights, the truck sped away, leading the officer to pull over and call for backup.

Minutes later, patrolling officers located the truck on Bartley Road. Officers would then follow the truck at the posted speed limit as it travelled through West Kelowna on Highway 97, onto Butt Road and back through Westbank before taking the Highway 97C exit to Merritt.

A police officer followed Peters up the Okanagan Connector in “extreme” winter driving conditions and through dense fog while travelling at between 50 and 80 km/h.

Peters pulled off the highway at the Loon Lake FSR where the chase continued and Merritt RCMP officers tried to set up a spike belt on the dirt road, but ran out of time and activated their lights in an attempt to stop the truck.

The truck rammed the front passenger side of the police SUV, disabling it, and continued to flee police making its way back onto Highway 97C, heading back towards West Kelowna.

Along the way, Peters pulled his truck in front of a Porsche Cayenne, forcing it to stop on the highway before slamming into reverse and crashing into the front of the Porsche, then speeding away.

At about 8 p.m. police caught back up to the truck near the Pennask Summit and continued the chase. Between 12 and 15 times Peters would stop his truck on the highway and try to reverse into the pursuing police officers. At one point, Peters pulled a U-turn on Highway 97C, striking another police vehicle.

Peters took the chase off Highway 97C and onto Trepanier Road, eventually onto Highway 97 in Peachland where he crossed the centre line several times at high-speed, forcing six vehicles to swerve into the ditch to avoid a head-on collision.

At a time when there was no oncoming traffic, an RCMP officer forced the truck off the road and into a tree near the intersection of Highway 97 and Clements Crescent.

During what was a frantic and dangerous arrest, two RCMP vehicles rammed the truck to prevent it from fleeing and a Mountie jumped into the bed of the truck and drew his weapon.

With the driver’s door blocked by a tree, another officer smashed out a rear passenger-side window and pulled Peters out of the vehicle, cuffing him after a struggle.

When an officer read Peters his Charter rights at 8:47 p.m., Peters apologized “for being an asshole and not stopping right away.” Peters explained that he had been using meth, which police found in his jacket pocket.

After the dust settled, Peters had caused about $34,000 in damage to three RCMP vehicles. ICBC wrote off the stolen truck.

Crown prosecutor Murray Kay presented the judge Monday with a joint submission, or plea deal, for a 20 month jail term and two years of probation. Kay called the Crown’s position “generous,” but said significant credit must be given to Peters guilty plea that avoided a lengthy trial amid a pandemic.

And while Peters has 15 convictions on his record, there was a 13 year gap in criminal activity between 2004 and 2017 that was ended by the accused slipping back into addiction as a result of stress associated with falling about $30,000 behind on his child support payments.

“If he’s going to break the offence cycle, he’s going to have to get off the drugs and stay off the drugs and do what he’s done in the past,” Kay said. “He’s worked as an ironworker, he has some skills, he can be a positive member of the community, but it’s up to him.”

Kay noted that should Peters come back before the courts again for a serious offence, he’s looking at a federal sentence as a starting point.

Defence lawyer Michael Patterson agreed, telling the judge his client wants to get clean as he feels he is getting too old for prison.

“Police officers are carrying out a public duty. Just like any one of us that go to work, they are entitled to expect that they will return home safely,” said Patterson, explaining Peters accepts that he put the arresting officers’ lives at risk with his actions.

Patterson said his client has shown remorse and insight for his crimes from early on in the process and drew a direct line between his crimes and addiction, “he took the drugs and the drugs took him and it has not let go of him.”

The judge will hand down a sentence later this week. Judges in Canada are bound to respect joint submissions, unless they believe the proposed sentence brings the “administration of justice into disrepute” and would lead a typical person to believe there is a “breakdown in the proper function of the justice system.”