By Dale Boyd
A man accused of a spree of thefts ending in police allegedly tracking him down on Highway 3 near Osoyoos with a helicopter will return to court on Aug. 28 for an arraignment hearing.
Bryce Michael Williamson is charged with three counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000, and single counts of theft under $5,000, flight from police and dangerous operation of a vehicle.
After the report of a stolen Ford F-350 and a trailer in two separate incidents out of Kelowna on June 14, RCMP received another call three days later from the owner of AJ Apple Shop on Hwy 33 East. Security footage from the business caught two men cutting the lock to the front gate at around 3:30 a.m., entering the compound in a black F-350.
“They then used an on-site forklift to load a $15,000 Lincoln brand welder onto a trailer attached to an F-350, as well as taking some miscellaneous tools,” Crown counsel Ann Lerchs said.
Calls to Boundary RCMP followed on June 17, reporting suspicious drivers with a trailer carrying welding gear and an Alberta license plate, with tips eventually leading police to the Osoyoos area.
• Read more: Stolen Jeep leads RCMP on wild chase
Osoyoos RCMP met with Boundary RCMP at the intersection of Whitetail Road and Highway 3.
With the help of an eye in the sky, a police helicopter, the truck was located on Whitetail Road near a dead-end Two RCMP officers drove up Whitetail road while other officers set up a spike belt.
Police located the truck up Whitetail Road and after activating their sirens and lights, the F-350 made “ an evasive maneuver to the right around the police vehicles, through a ditch and then towards” police, Lerchs said.
“When it became clear there was not enough room to get around the spike belt, the driver stepped on the gas and accelerated directly over both spike belts before fleeing west on Highway 3”
Around 11 a.m. the truck had all four tires punctured and continued toward Osoyoos, with police observing the driver swerving into oncoming traffic and eventually losing control and crashing into the ditch.
Four RCMP officers surrounded the car and arrested the two men driving at gunpoint.
Lerchs alleged the driver was identified by police as Williamson, and the passenger was Mark Aaron Pauls, who is facing multiple charges related to the incident. Pauls appears in court next on Aug. 21.
A taser device, a small amount of suspected drugs and two baton devices were located within the vehicle, Crown alleges.
Williamson has a “significant” prior record including violence, theft, property crimes, resisting or obstructing officers and breaches of court orders, Lerchs said.
Crown argued Williamson has a history of ignoring court orders and his alleged behaviour puts the public at risk while she argued for his detention.
“The driving behaviour of Mr. Williamson puts the public at danger. He was driving dangerously on Whitetail Road and on to Highway 3 on the middle of the day, on a summer day,” Lerchs said.
Defence counsel Michael Patterson, after standing court down briefly Monday afternoon for a discussion with his client, asked Judge Greg Koturbash to adjourn the bail hearing for two weeks so his client, who appeared Monday via video from the Surrey Pretrail Services Centre, could appear in person for an arraignment hearing. Arraignment hearings are typically held to enter pleas in provincial court in B.C.
Williamson is also facing charges related to the alleged theft of a vehicle from Qualicum Beach. Crown stated that Williamson was found in the presence of the Nissan Murano, which had been reported stolen, parked outside of a residence in Penticton on Feb. 13, where Crown said the vehicle was seized and Williamson was taken into custody.
Williamson was released on a recognizance on May 31 after a warrant for those charges was issued in April. He remains in custody until his next appearance on Aug. 28.