December 5th, 2020

Man charged with copper theft headed to trial

By Shurtz, Delon on November 10, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

A Lethbridge man who had hoped to resolve several charges in relation to a break-in at a city electrical substation more than a year ago, is headed for trial, after all.

The matter for Travis Roy Priest was in Lethbridge provincial court Monday, but simply adjourned to the Case Management Office, where Lethbridge lawyer Wade Hlady is expected to set a trial date on several charges, including 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.

Travis also faces several other charges, including drug possession and theft under $5,000, which are unrelated to the substation break-in.

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Ironic if the Crown’s resolution was no jail time and then the trial will result in jail time.

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