By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 31, 2024.
A southern Alberta man with a “terrible” criminal record, had hoped a judge would be lenient and reject a Crown recommendation for a lengthy jail term for a spree of offences last year.
Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich asked the judge Friday in Lethbridge court of justice to sentence 40-year-old Daylan John Strembesky to 18 months in custody for drug possession, dangerous driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of stolen credit cards, and theft under $5,000.
Lethbridge lawyer Vincent Guinan, however, was seeking a seven-month jail term plus probation, and suggested the Crown’s much higher recommendation is simply too punitive
“I had indicated at the outset that I’m a very significant distance away from my friend with respect to sentencing, and I’ll just be blunt, I’m concerned that the sentence suggested by the Crown might be one of those types of sentences that we would talk about as being crushing,” Guinan said.
After a lengthy sentencing hearing, during which the Crown related details of the offences, Justice Paul Pharo reserved his decision until Monday, when he sentenced Strembesky to 15 months in jail, to begin in March after an unrelated jail sentence he is currently serving concludes. Pharo also prohibited Strembesky from driving for two years.
Strembesky’s crime spree began on Feb. 21, 2023, when he was seen driving a stolen 1996 Dodge Ramcharger. The owner reported the theft to police and posted photos of his truck on Facebook, urging followers to keep an eye out for his vehicle.
That night a person who saw the post told police the truck was in the Safeway parking lot on Mayor Magrath Drive. The stolen truck was parked next to another truck, and police watched while Strembesky emptied $400 worth of gas from a slip tank in the other vehicle and steal a set of battery cables, steel toe boots, and a winter coat.
He left before more police officers arrived to assist but they saw him park at a nearby hotel and climb onto a parked flatbed truck. Although he was seen “moving around” and checking out the slip tank, he didn’t appear to take anything.
Police followed Strembesky as he drove around Lethbridge without his headlights on and drove through stop signs. At the time it was dark, snowing, and the roads were slippery.
At 10:30 p.m. Strembesky headed out of town on Highway 4 and Lethbridge police followed him until they had to turn around and return to the city. Coaldale RCMP took over, however, and watched for the suspect to drive by. They turned on their emergency lights, but instead of stopping, Strembesky turned around and sped back to Lethbridge.
Lethbridge police saw the accused enter the city and continue west along Scenic Drive after driving through the red light, despite traffic, at the intersection with Mayor Magrath Drive.
Strembesky finally parked the truck on 29 A Street just off of South Parkside Drive, exited the vehicle with a backpack and walked away. He was arrested moments later and caught with several stolen items, including credit cards, a laptop computer, keys, drug pipe, knife and 16.7 grams of methamphetamine.
At the time of the offences Strembesky did not have a valid driver’s licence, and was subject to several driving suspensions from previous convictions for driving while unauthorized in 2019, and failing to stop for police in 2017.
Guinan told court his client has struggled with addictions his entire life, and although he attempted to enrol in the drug treatment court, he was not eligible.
“Mr. Strembesky could be a poster child for the unfortunate realities of untreated and unattended-to addictions.”
“I feel bad for what I’ve done,” Strembesky told the judge. “The root of the problem is my drug addiction. I normally don’t do that kind of stuff when I’m sober. I keep busy working.”