By Shurtz, Delon on February 22, 2020.
Judge John Maher was understandably upset when he was told a former Lethbridge man was with a group of people who released the handbrakes on several rail cars a year ago.
“This is not a funny thing,” he said, after recounting the tragedy in Quebec in 2013 where dozens of people died after a runaway train derailed after the air brakes lost pressure.
Charles Pantherbone pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge provincial court to charges of unlawfully entering onto a rail line, mischief, obstructing a peace officer and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Court was told Pantherbone was one of several people who were seen sitting on a tanker car parked on the rail line adjacent to Crowsnest Trail in Lethbridge. When police arrived, only Pantherbone and one other man, Cody Long Time Squirrel, were still there, but they fled when they saw the officers.
After a lengthy foot chase, an officer tackled Pantherbone and he was arrested. He also had in his possession a throwing knife he claimed he carried for protection.
A train engineer inspected the trains and found the brakes on four tanker cars had been release. Two of the cars contained dangerous goods.
Although Pantherbone, 30, said he never tampered with the brakes, he was a party to the offence and charged along with Long Time Squirrel, who was sentenced previously. The other individuals involved were never identified.
Defence told court Pantherbone, a recovering addict, moved to Brooks to get away from the drugs, and hopes to get treatment for his addictions. He didn’t say why he was trespassing on the rail line.
“There is no explanation, sir,” his lawyer told Judge Maher.
Pantherbone was sentenced to 60 days in jail, but given credit for the equivalent of 38 days he spent in pre-trial custody, leaving 22 days on his sentence.
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