By Dale Boyd
A man accused of leading police on a wild chase in a stolen vehicle throughout the South Okanagan was denied bail on Thursday in provincial court in Penticton.
Tyler Newton, 37, is facing multiple charges including dangerous driving, flight from police and resisting a peace officer.
Crown counsel Kurt Froehlich alleged that after Newton had crashed through an orchard on May 27 in the Oliver area, police struggled to detain him and had to deploy a taser before Newton could be taken into custody.
Crown alleges police found Newton sleeping in a stolen Jeep earlier that morning around 6:30 a.m. in a parking lot around 10th Avenue in Okanagan Falls. When an officer startled Newton by waking him up, he allegedly put a screwdriver in the broken ignition of the Jeep and took off south down Highway 97.
Multiple 911 calls followed throughout the morning reporting a Jeep driving dangerously at speeds up to 140 km/h on Highway 97 passing on double-yellow lines and forcing multiple cars driving on to the shoulder to avoid a collision. Later that morning, another 911 call had a witness describe a man who punched out the window of a residence on Sunflower Street with a screwdriver.
The chase continued, Crown alleged, with Newton crashing through a locked gate on a farm property on Road 2, and eventually driving over a police spike belt on the highway, popping three of the vehicle’s four tires. But Newton continued to attempt to evade police, Crown said.
After he was eventually surrounded by police vehicles, Newton allegedly rammed a police cruiser in reverse. Newton then drove through an orchard near Tuc el Nuit Drive causing $5,000 in damage to irrigation equipment and tomato plants, Crown alleged. Froehlich said Newton’s vehicle became stuck in fence on the property and police surrounded him.
“All throughout this Mr. Newton continued to attempt to drive his vehicle away, the tires continued to spin,” Froehlich said. “He was pepper sprayed by (an officer), that didn’t stop him, he continued to try to drive the vehicle away. The police were forced to smash out the front, passenger and driver-side windows.”
An officer hit Newton multiple times with a closed fist as he still refused to leave the vehicle, Crown alleged, and Newton was tasered before he gave up and was taken into custody. He has remained behind bars since.
Newton has a lengthy criminal record with a total of 41 convictions spanning from Surrey to Winnipeg, including 12 bail breaches, six weapons-related offences as well as six robberies.
“These offenses in my submission showed an utter disregard for the safety of anybody else and it is pure, pure chance that he didn’t injure or kill somebody else on the road that day,” Froehlich said.
Newton told the court, appearing via video in custody, that he had been sober since his most recent release from jail in January, but after learning his father had a heart attack on May 27 he was unable to cope with the news.
“Obviously drugs are my problem, I know that,” Newton said.
“I freaked out about the whole thing with my dad almost dying it just … I have kids of my own and it makes me think about how I’m not there the way I should be,” Newton said.
Judge Robin Smith denied Newton’s release and Newton returns to court on Aug. 14.