By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 25, 2024.
A 35-year-old Lethbridge man who was fined $1,200 for being behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle while he was impaired by drugs, will not have to pay the fine, but he will have to serve the default time in jail.
Daniel Joseph McFadden is allowed to serve 10 days in jail instead of paying the fine, but the sentence will run concurrently with a sentence he received this week in Lethbridge court of justice for two other offences.
McFadden pleaded guilty to charges of mischief and possession of stolen property and was sentenced to four months in jail. He also faced a charge of impaired driving, but he pleaded guilty instead to a lesser and included offence of having care and control of a vehicle while being impaired, for which he received the fine.
At about 4 p.m. on Oct. 25 of last year police received a report regarding a suspicious vehicle parked in an alley in the Fairmont area on the southside. A person was passed out in the driver’s seat and he had a glass pipe hanging from his mouth. Although the vehicle was not moving, its reverse lights were on.
Police boxed in the vehicle to prevent the driver from fleeing, then attempted to wake the driver.
“He was initially, for a bit of time, nonresponsive, and it took police some time to rouse him,” Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison told court. “When the police were able to wake him up, it appeared that he tried to drive the vehicle away, but he was boxed in by police vehicles and he was not able to get anywhere.”
There was a mini torch in one of McFadden’s hands and a glass pipe in his mouth, and police found additional pipes and glass needles in the vehicle, and small amounts of methamphetamine and fentanyl on his person.
“Based on the observations of the police officers, Mr. McFadden was grossly intoxicated. They say he was unresponsive, he needed assistance to get out of the vehicle and didn’t seem to understand the police as they were explaining things to him.”
Morrison pointed out the vehicle had been stolen earlier in the day from a business on Mayor Magrath Drive South. The vehicle was left running momentarily while workers unloaded equipment and prepared to clear snow for nearby businesses. When they returned the vehicle was gone.
The mischief charge relates to an incident shortly after noon on Dec. 21. Police were notified that a man was asleep in a vehicle that was parked in a garage that was under construction and didn’t have doors.
“It appeared that Mr. McFadden simply walked in, opened the car door and fell asleep.”
Next to him was a small container with what appeared to be fentanyl, and there was also a bank card belonging to someone else, and a pair of new running shoes.
Lethbridge lawyer Tracy Hembroff said her client is a smart individual but he struggles “brutally” with addiction to drugs. When he’s not in jail he couch surfs and lives on the street, and gets what help he can from family.
McFadden was given credit for 54 days spent in custody, leaving him with 66 days left to serve.