Man jailed for 18 months for dramatic highway takedown

November 26, 2019


Continuing a habit of granting firm sentences to those that run from the police, a Penticton judge Monday handed a South Okanagan man 18 months in prison for a pursuit that ended in a dramatic takedown on Highway 3 east of Osoyoos.

Bryce Williamson, 31, appeared in provincial court Monday for sentencing on four counts from a pair of incidents last year.

Crown prosecutor Ann Lerchs said a motorist on Highway 33 in Beaverdell called RCMP early June 17 to report an F350 pickup pulling a flat-deck trailer with a very expensive welder.

The caller, who was a welder himself, told police the male driver looked suspicious “and did not appear to be an individual that would own a welder” valued in excess of $15,000.

The truck, trailer and welder had been stolen from three different Kelowna business in the days prior, court heard.

The vehicle was spotted with the help of road maintenance crews driving up Whitetail Road, just off Highway 3 on Anarchist Mountain. With Whitetail Road being a dead-end, RCMP gathered at the Highway 3 intersection while a helicopter surveilled the scene from above.

A roadblock including spike belts was set at the intersection while officers drove up Whitetail Road to meet the truck. The truck and trailer evaded the police car and blew through the roadblock, puncturing all four tires, continuing west on Highway 3.

The truck swerved into oncoming traffic, eventually crashing into a ditch, where Williamson continued to spin the bare rims in the ditch. RCMP removed him from the truck at gunpoint.

“Dangerous driving and flight from police are becoming all too common in this area, on this docket,” said Judge Gregory Koturbash, echoing decisions from earlier this year where he decried the dangers involved in police chases.

Koturbash pointed to one of his own decisions involving a police chase, which was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal after the defence challenged it for being too harsh.

“Society can’t function in an orderly fashion if people who are required to stop for police can weigh the odds and make a conscious, calculated decision and decide to flee because the rewards…outweigh the consequences.”

The Crown sought a two-year jail term while the defence argued for release on time served to a sober living facility outside Kamloops.

Williamson has a “short but serious” criminal record, getting involved with the justice system at 26 after falling to addiction. Defence lawyer Michael Patterson tried to argue his client would be motivated to get clean by his girlfriend and unborn child, who were seated in the gallery.

Williamson was sentenced in 2017 to 991 days in prison for a violent break-and-enter over a business deal gone bad.

He was also sentenced Monday to an additional 90 days in prison for being caught in possession of a car stolen out of Vancouver Island earlier this year.

After credit for time already served, Williamson has 387 days left on his sentence. Upon release, he will be subject to two years of probation and a two-year driving ban.