June 22nd, 2024

Driver evaded police twice before being arrested


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on November 30, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle while prohibited from driving has earned a man a jail sentence just short of one year.

Tong Matthew Tong received a sentence of 11 months and 10 days after he pleaded guilty in Lethbridge provincial court to charges of driving while prohibited, flight from police and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

On the afternoon of April 15 of this year police responded to a complaint that a black SUV was driving erratically and the man behind the wheel was counting money as he drove along Mayor Magrath Drive South. The complainant provided police with a licence plate number, which police queried and learned the SUV had been stolen from Edmonton the day before.

Police noticed the SUV in a parking lot and saw Tong standing just outside the vehicle. As police approached, Tong jumped back in the SUV and took off at a high rate of speed and drove into a cul-de-sac where police thought they had him trapped.

When police entered the cul-de-sac, Tong was gone, and a witness said the driver had, while travelling between 80-100 km/h, jumped the curb, then drove along a walking path through a green strip, somehow avoiding posts installed in the ground to prevent vehicles from entering the area.

Tong exited the green strip and escaped along 28 Street, but an hour later RCMP received a report the vehicle was driving erratically on Highway 4 near the Coutts border. Two hours after that the vehicle was back in Lethbridge and seen near the northside gun range in the river valley, where Tong had been asking people how to get to B.C.

Shortly afterward police saw the SUV travelling south on Scenic Drive then turn west on 1 Avenue South, where police knew he was trapped and would be forced to turn around. They set up stopsticks, which Tong drove over as he returned along 1 Avenue South, but they only slowed him down briefly and he still sped away.

The vehicle was later seen parked at the casino near 4 Avenue and 40 Street South. Police surrounded the area and found Tong inside the Casino where he was arrested. Video surveillance at the casino showed the SUV arriving and Tong stepping out of the vehicle and going inside the business.

Although sentenced to the equivalent of 340 days in jail, Tong was given full credit for time he had already spent in remand custody, effectively completing his sentence. He was also prohibited from driving for another three years. Two additional charges of dangerous driving were withdrawn.

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