A man convicted of a series of driving offenses that included making a U-turn on a roundabout received sentences on Monday that included community service, fines and a curfew for the next four months.
Bradley Christian Conolly, 26, got another chance after Magistrate Valdis Foldats asked why the defendant should not go to jail. A message must be sent to the public that denounces driving dangerously in order to avoid police, he asserted.
Defense attorney Jonathon Hughes agreed, but suggested, “The court may want to send the message that when you do the right thing and try to address the issues and turn your life around, the court will assist.”
He also pointed to the defendant’s guilty pleas and contrition; his behavior had caused him great shame and embarrassment.
Senior Crown counsel Candia James outlined Conolly’s offending, which began around 1:26 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2016. Police officers conducting a radar check observed a car going 49 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone on West Bay Road.
They pursued the vehicle using their siren and flashing lights to get the driver to stop, but he did not. The vehicle traveled onto the Esterley Tibbetts Highway toward George Town, then went through a red light at the Jacques Scott intersection, going on to Bobby Thompson Way and then heading east. The driver made a U-turn in the Red Bay roundabout, going in the wrong direction until he turned off to head to South Sound, where he eventually stopped in the vicinity of the South Sound dock.
Ms. James said officers searched the vehicle and found a container with what turned out to be 67.2 grams of ganja, a little over 2 ounces. Conolly refused a give a breath test (to measure alcohol consumption) saying, “It doesn’t make sense – I know I’m over the limit.”
He was asked for a urine sample (to check for drugs) and told officers, “I don’t want to.”
Mr. Hughes said the facts were admitted. Since the incident, however, Conolly had made efforts to change his lifestyle. He now dealt with stress by cycling and running instead of turning to alcohol or ganja. He had tested negative for ganja use every time he came to court.
The attorney emphasized his client’s good work record, which included a recent promotion and a character reference from his boss. Conolly was in a positive relationship and had supportive family members, he added.
“I have no doubt your comments will be reported and the message will go out,” he concluded.
Asked her opinion, Ms. James said she did not think immediate custody was necessary to have a deterrent effect, given Conolly’s record and current circumstances.
The magistrate said he did not want to use the phrase “police chase.” He pointed out that it was the defendant who did something wrong that caused police to pursue him. “You realize how dangerous it was. You were both high and drunk,” he told Conolly.
*Adapting his remarks from a November 2011 article by Canadian journalist Matt Gurney in the National Post, Magistrate Foldats commented: “People do not take drunk driving nearly seriously enough. There is a bizarre notion that so long as no one is hurt or killed by a drunk driver, that somehow it’s really not that big a deal. What nonsense. Those people who shrug and take a no-harm, no-foul approach are kidding themselves. Society wouldn’t tolerate someone who got drunk and fired a gun into a crowd so long as all the bullets missed. In the hands of a drunk driver, a car is every bit as dangerous as a loaded gun, and it’s time we start treating it that way.”
He pointed out that Conolly’s driving had included the “tourism corridor” and residential areas. “You were a serious danger to everybody out there,” he told the defendant. “It was only by luck that someone was not killed or injured, or property damaged.”
The maximum sentence in Summary Court for dangerous driving is one year, he noted. He also agreed that the court must not pass a custody sentence unless the offending is so serious that no other sentence fits.
“I’m not sending you to jail today,” he decided. “You realize how serious your situation is, how much of your life you’d be throwing away.”
Although he did not impose immediate imprisonment, the magistrate said he was going to curtail Conolly’s freedom for a while. For the dangerous driving, he ordered a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew for the next four months, unless there was a medical emergency, and a total of three years’ disqualification from driving.
The failure to comply with a traffic signal drew a fine of $100. Failing to provide a specimen of breath was met with a fine of $300 and concurrent disqualification for 18 months.
For speeding at almost double the limit, the sentence was 40 hours of community service. For driving without insurance, the sentence was another 40 hours of community service and a concurrent disqualification.
For the ganja offenses, Conolly was ordered to do another 40 hours of community service – for a total of 120 hours – and be on probation with counseling for one year.
“You did the right thing. You got yourself clean,” the magistrate said.
He also ordered Conolly to pay $300 in costs in addition to the fines.
*Editor’s Note: This story has been amended from the original to clarify Magistrate Foldats’s comment.*