Dangerous driver to be sentenced next week

Rosie
Rosie Mullaley
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The man who smashed and flipped his car in front of a St. John’s funeral home while fleeing from police will be sentenced next week.

Randy James Wheeler pleaded guilty to four charges Friday at provincial court in St. John’s — dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving with a suspended licence and driving with no insurance.

The 31-year-old was arrested as a result of a startling incident Nov. 19, 2013. At 9:30 a.m., the RNC says, patrol officers tried to stop a blue Mazda Protegé on Blackmarsh Road for a traffic violation.

Officers activated the police car’s emergency lights, but Wheeler refused to pull over and instead sped off.

Officers chased him, but say they called off the pursuit for safety reasons. Wheeler, however, reportedly continued to speed through traffic, running red lights and stop signs. He reached speeds of 100 km/h.

Minutes later, the Protegé smashed into a west-bound vehicle on Hamilton Avenue before overturning and coming to a stop in front of Barrett’s Funeral Home.

Wheeler and a 19-year-old female passenger were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after the crash.

The male driver and female passenger of the other vehicle were attended to by paramedics at the scene.

“Mr. Wheeler is extremely lucky that nobody was hurt,” Crown prosecutor Jennifer Colford said.

“But Mr. Wheeler was a significant danger to anyone in the area at that time.”

At his first court appearance, Wheeler hobbled into court on crutches. He was released on bail a few days later.

He owes $5,181.75 in traffic fines.

Colford said since fines don’t seem to deter Wheeler, she recommended a jail sentence of nine to 12 months.

Defence lawyer Michelle Coady pointed out that other than a charge of refusing the breathalyzer in February 2013, her client has no criminal record. He has never served a jail term.

She recommended a conditional sentence, in which Wheeler serves his sentence in the community.

“He realizes what he did was a poor decision,” she said.

When Wheeler got the chance to speak, he said, “I’m sorry for what happened. I made a mistake.”

Judge David Orr will render his decision Thursday.

rmullaley@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Blackmarsh Road, Hamilton Avenue

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