By Shurtz, Delon on April 29, 2020.
A southern Alberta man who pleaded guilty to 19 charges has been sent to jail for a year and fined more than $3,000.
James Brander, 39, pleaded guilty last week in Lethbridge provincial court to multiple charges of drug possession, possession of stolen property, obstruction of a peace officer, resisting a peace officer, theft, failure to attend court, breach of release conditions, driving without insurance and possession of break-in tools,
Although sentenced to a year in jail, Brander was given credit for time he has already spent in custody – more than a year – and his sentence is considered served. However, he remains in custody on other charges, and returns to court today in Medicine Hat and Thursday in Lethbridge.
The oldest charge – theft under $5,000 – dates back to Nov. 24, 2018 when Brander stole two bottles of perfume from the westside Shoppers Drug Mart, then returned to the store a couple of minutes later and took two more bottles. When he returned five days later he was confronted by a loss prevention officer and Brander confessed. He promised to return to the store with payment but never did.
On Feb. 1, 2019 Brander was stopped by police for not wearing a seatbelt. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant, and during a search of his vehicle police found a tube covered with white powder, and a plastic bag containing about a gram of methamphetamine.
Not even two weeks later Taber police received a report of a stolen truck, and when police found it stopped in a parking lot Brander ran away. He was caught shortly afterward with several stolen items, including various tools.
The following month Brander ran from police again after officers saw a suspicious vehicle parked at a restaurant in Lethbridge. Brander ran through the parking lot with a police cruiser in pursuit before the officer got out of the vehicle and chased Brander on foot. Twice Brander stopped and faced the officer before running again, but after the second time the officer hit Brander on the knee with his baton, knocking him to the ground where they struggled before Brander was finally handcuffed.
In April and May Brander never showed up for several court hearings, failed to obey a curfew, and failed to report to probation as directed. He was also caught driving a vehicle without insurance.
On Sept. 19 RCMP responded to a complaint of a truck stolen from Taber, and the following day they found it in a field east of Picture Butte. Brander’s fingerprints were found on a window.
At about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 9 Lethbridge police were on routine patrol when they saw a truck parked at a downtown pub, and Brander asleep in the driver’s seat. Police learned the truck had been stolen from Coaldale. Other police vehicles surrounded the truck and activated their emergency lights, which woke Brander up. He started the truck but gave himself up after an officer opened his door and ordered him out.
In addition to his jail sentence Brander must make restitution for damaging the pickup truck police found near Picture Butte. He was fined $2,875 for driving without insurance and $500 for drug possession. Brander chose to serve the default time in jail rather than pay $500. He must also submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank.
Calgary lawyer Shaun Leochko told court his client moved to Alberta from Ontario about 10 years ago and was doing well while he worked in the oil and gas industry. He struggles with addictions, however, which led to his criminal activity.
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