June 19th, 2024

Man gets credit for jail time after guilty plea

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on June 1, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Coaldale man who jumped from a two-storey window to avoid being arrested by police, has been released after spending the equivalent of more than one and a half years in custody.

Shawn Barry Miller, 41, pleaded guilty Friday in Lethbridge court of justice to one charge of flight from police, as well as charges of driving while prohibited, dangerous driving, assault of a peace officer, theft of a motor vehicle and obstructing a peace officer.

He was sentenced to 620 days in jail, but released after receiving full credit for time he already spent in remand custody since he was arrested in April 2023.

Miller’s daring escape was part of a spree of offences that began on April 1 of last year after an RCMP officer patrolling in Coaldale saw Miller driving a pickup truck, even though he had previously been prohibited from driving.

As Miller and the officer drove past each other in opposite directions, they locked eyes, and when the officer turned around to stop him, Miller sped off. Given the amount of traffic in the area at the time, the officer did not give chase.

Two days later, however, the same officer and a colleague went to Miller’s home to arrest him for driving while prohibited, but when he saw them drive up to the residence he fled on foot. While police patrolled the area looking for him, they received a report that he was seen driving off in the truck he was driving previously.

Police saw the truck and attempted to block it from driving away, but as one of the officers walked up to the vehicle and grabbed the door handle, Miller took off again, narrowly missing the officer and the police cruiser that was blocking the driveway.

“He left at a high rate of speed, and he was driving quite erratically, as well,” said Crown Prosecutor Robert Morrison. “It was estimated that his speed going into a residential area was approximately a hundred and fifty kilometres an hour, and several vehicles pulled off the side of the road when they saw Mr. Miller coming, given his speed and the way he was driving.”

Police ended the pursuit, but tracked Miller down again at a Coaldale residence 12 days later, where Miller’s mother allowed them in the house. They went upstairs and found Miller hiding under a bed, and when they told him he was under arrest, he flipped over the bed and jumped out the second-storey window.

“Officers ran downstairs in an attempt to intercept him, but he was already in a darkened pickup truck that was parked near the residence, and he took off,” Morrison said.

Police pursued him, but ended the chase shortly afterward given Miller’s erratic and dangerous driving.

Later that night police responded to a report of a pickup truck that had been stolen from a residential driveway. The truck was for sale, and when the owner allowed Miller to take it for a test drive, Miller never returned.

Police found the truck parked in an alley a short time later and surrounded it. They also placed a spike belt in front of the tires, but when an officer approached and told Miller he was under arrest, Miller took off again, driving over the spike belt and sideswiping a police vehicle.

“He was located a short distance away, running away from the vehicle, and was arrested with the assistance of a police dog.”

Lethbridge lawyer Tracy Hembroff said Miller was bitten by the dog and had to be treated at the hospital.

Hembroff told court Miller was struggling at the time following the breakdown of a long-term relationship, which sent him into a state of despair.

“So in a very short time to follow, he just was basically out of control,” she said.

Hembroff pointed out that despite having a “fairly significant learning disability,” Miller has, while in custody, taken several courses, including courses for anger management and addictions.

In addition to his sentence, which is deemed served after being credited for time in pretrial custody, Miller is also prohibited from driving for three years.

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