July 14th, 2024

After turning himself in for car theft and police chase, addict requests federal prison for treatment access

By Peggy Revell on July 19, 2017.


A two-year sentence was handed down Tuesday to a Lethbridge man who turned himself in for vehicle theft after evading police on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Wiping away tears from his eyes at times, David Labonte appeared before the Medicine Hat Court by CCTV from the Calgary Remand Centre to enter guilty pleas and request a longer federal penitentiary sentence.

“He thinks the federal system would help him with his addictions,” the Crown said during sentencing, explaining that sentencing for the charges Labonte faces are typically in the 18- to 20-month range.

The incident occurred June 30, when city police were conducting traffic stops on the westbound side of the Trans-Canada Highway. One of the officers had pulled over a vehicle, when a truck — driven by the 30-year-old Labonte — drove past at 91 km/h.

Police decided to pull the truck over, as it was travelling above the speed limit, and the limit required when passing emergency vehicles at the side of the road.

The truck continued down the highway above the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic, even jumping the median before going back to the correct side. The vehicle at times was going more than 100 km/h.

The officer ended the pursuit due to public safety concern.

Police later learned that this vehicle was stolen in Lethbridge the night before. This information had not yet been entered into the system, so police would not have known this during the encounter.

Labonte proceeded to ditch the vehicle at a parking lot. He unsuccessfully attempted to break into another vehicle, then successfully broke into a truck. The truck’s owner was working in the area, and happened to see his vehicle being driven away. He reported this to police, who then discovered the ditched stolen vehicle.

The next day police received a call from Labonte, providing a full confession, saying he wished to turn himself in, and giving them his exact location.

If it weren’t for this call, Labonte would have been difficult to locate, said the Crown.

“He realized on his own, sitting there, that his life had spiraled out of his control,” said duty counsel Ian Baird of Labonte’s decision to turn himself in, adding that Labonte has a “very serious addiction.”

Labonte’s adult life has been “punctuated with criminality,” said Baird, but Labonte hopes to use the programs available in the federal penitentiary to get clean and turn his life around.

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