By JOE FRIES
An attempt to pin an Osoyoos police chase on a mystery person was deflated by a Penticton judge Monday.
Jeffrey William Wright, 49, was convicted of a single count of flight from police and handed a $2,000 fine and one-year driving prohibition.
His trial earlier this month in provincial court heard from a pair of Osoyoos police officers who testified they were on patrol around 3 a.m. on May 21, 2018, when they saw a black GMC pickup they knew belonged to Mr. Wright’s elderly father, who likely wouldn’t be out at that time of day.
After following the truck to the Osoyoos 7-Eleven, the officers watched as it left the shop and, with the benefit of ambient lighting, were able to make out the younger Wright behind the wheel as he drove by at slow speed.
The trial heard the officers had dozens of previous interactions with Mr. Wright, who at one time worked as a tow truck driver, so they recognized him instantly.
The officers also knew Mr. Wright was a prohibited driver and tried to pull him over with lights and sirens.
At that point, however, Mr. Wright “essentially took off, with tires squealing,” Judge Jane Cartwright said in her decision.
The chase proceeded from Highway 97 to Highway 3, but was called off by RCMP for safety reasons.
Later that day, officers spotted the truck parked back at the elder Wright’s home, and arrested the younger Mr. Wright for flight.
Defence counsel Nelson Selamaj, at trial, offered an alibi for his client and argued police wouldn’t have been able to accurately identify Mr. Wright based on a quick glimpse in the dark.
Mr. Selamaj also suggested the truck had been stolen by someone else who returned it afterwards, a theory dismissed by Judge Cartwright as “unrealistic.”
Joe Fries is an editor and writer with The Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and The Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.