By Shurtz, Delon on October 21, 2020.
A Lethbridge man who failed to appear in court Monday after he was ordered last month to attend, has been given another chance.
Travis Roy Priest had also failed to show up for a docket appearance Sept. 29 in Lethbridge provincial court, which prompted the judge to warn the accused’s lawyer that if Priest was a no-show again, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.
During Monday’s brief hearing Priest did not attend again, but this time it wasn’t his fault, the judge was told. Lethbridge lawyer Wade Hlady explained his client contacted him and said he attempted to attend court Monday but was turned away by the sheriffs at the courthouse entrance, who told him he didn’t need to appear in person.
“The bouncers at the front said he had a lawyer,” Hlady told the judge.
Judge Gregory Maxwell excused Priest from attending, but said defence must take a step on the next court date. Hlady said he would schedule trial dates when the matter returned next Monday.
Priest is charged with shopbreaking to commit theft, shopbreaking to commit mischief, possession of stolen property under $5,000 and possession of ID documents. The charges stem from an incident April 28, 2019 when two men broke into an electrical substation in the 3500 block of 25 Street West by cutting the lock on a gate. Police reported they damaged the lock on the entry door, and once inside damaged a significant amount of equipment to get at the copper wire inside.
Spools of copper wire and various pieces of equipment, including a laser level, network connector and battery charge pack, were stolen, and a transformer worth $250,000 and a grounding cart unit worth $25,000 were damaged. Damages totalled $300,000, while the stolen copper and equipment are worth $6,500.
The following day police responded to a report of suspicious activity at a home in the 2700 block of 7 Avenue North after people were seen transferring copper wire from a vehicle into a garage. Police later searched the property and recovered stolen property, including some items from the substation.
Priest, as well as his father, David Bradley Priest, pleaded not guilty to the shared charges on Nov. 22 last year, but earlier this year their lawyers received a resolution proposal from the Crown, which could have avoided a trial. The Crown withdrew the charges against David on March 20 after court was told the accused had died.
Priest also faces charges of drug possession and theft under $5,000, which are unrelated to the substation break-in.
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