A man who drove away from a police roadblock in 2017 was sentenced on Monday to three years imprisonment for aiding and abetting another man who had an imitation firearm with intent to resist arrest.
The second man, whose identity is unknown, was one of two passengers in a vehicle driven by LeShawn Shaheim Forrester, now 25, who also received an eight-month sentence for dangerous driving. This will run concurrent with the longer sentence.
Mr. Forrester had pleaded guilty to the driving charge and not guilty to the firearm charge. He elected to be tried by judge alone. Justice Marlene Carter heard the matter and found him guilty in October. Sentencing was then adjourned pending a social inquiry report.
Mr. Forrester had said during his trial that, on the night of June 4, 2017, he gave a ride to the two men because it was raining, but he did not know them. When they came to the roadblock, one of the men told him he had drugs on him and Mr. Forrester panicked and drove off, but then came to his senses. He said he went back to the area of the roadblock near the Kimpton hotel site, where his passengers got out of his vehicle and ran. He stayed in the driver’s seat.
The court heard that Mr. Forrester had driven away from the roadblock in such a manner that an officer had to jump out of the way. He then continued for almost two kilometers in spite of police signaling him to stop, at times in excess of 80 miles per hour and sometimes in the wrong lane.
He told the court he did not know anything about the firearm or the men, but he did not give any explanation to the officers who approached him. He had been told that he had the right not to say anything, but it could harm his defense if he raised matters at his trial that he did not tell them when questioned.
Evidence about the firearm was given by officers who had chased the fleeing passengers.
In her finding of guilt, the judge said she was satisfied that the unknown male had an item in his hand, that the item had the appearance of a firearm, and at the time the male intended to resist arrest.
Justice Carter accepted that Mr. Forrester had no previous convictions for firearms or traffic or any crime of violence. However, he had been on police bail at the time in relation to another incident.
Defense attorney Lee Halliday-Davis had asked for a suspended sentence, but the judge said the punishment had to be custody. She arrived at the term of three years after considering other cases in which sentences had ranged from three to six years.
For the dangerous driving, she noted that the maximum sentence is 12 months and gave him one-third discount for his guilty plea.
The judge ordered that he be disqualified from driving for three years after he serves his sentence.