NORTH STORMONT/CORNWALL – A man who led O.P.P. officers on a high speed pursuit in North Stormont this summer will be spending a year in jail.
Steven Charette, 25, pleaded guilty to assault, a breach of recognizance to not consume alcohol, care and control of a vehicle while impaired, flight from police and assaulting a police officer with a weapon.
Dressed in a blue button-down polo dress shirt and gray pants, Charette rubbed his hand over his face and grabbed the back of his neck during the sentencing Monday morning.
A Cornwall courtroom heard that Charette had gotten drunk during a birthday party on June 5, 2015 at his then-girlfriend’s house on Sixth Road before starting an argument with her father at 2 a.m., calling him a “goof” and threatening to punch him.
He had been on previous court conditions from Ottawa to not drink and not be in a vehicle without the driver present. “At the time of this incident there were four warrants outstanding by Ottawa police for Mr. Charette,” Crown Attorney Elaine Evans said.
Charette then “stormed out of the house” and jumped in his Ford Ranger pickup truck and was going to drive home. A party goer phone the police.
Charette then returned to the house on an ATV less than a half hour later and was “acting aggressive and trying to fight with people,” Evans recounted.
Charette is also reported to have called his girlfriend’s father a “p***y” and said “I will kill you before the police get here.” As the same party goer called police again, Charette assaulted the woman by grabbing her hair and taking the phone away before leaving on the ATV, throwing the phone in the driveway.
When SD&G O.P.P. Sgt. Marc Hemmerick arrived to take a statement from the victims at 3:07 a.m., Charette returned a second time in his pickup truck and then left with police in pursuit, but Hemmerick lost sight of the vehicle.
Another officer, Sgt. Simon Hardy, spotted the pickup truck shortly after and attempted to stop it but Charette fled, where the chase continued on Dewar Road, Tolmies Corners Road and Sixth Road.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Hemmerick had positioned his cruiser at Dewar and Sixth Roads and attempted to deploy a spike belt but the chase arrived at the intersection before he could get to his trunk to get the equipment.
“Moments later, Mr. Charette, driving his black pickup truck, drove past him through the ditch. Mr. Charette then spun out and did a 180 degree turn. At this point Mr. Charette’s vehicle was approximately 10 meters from Sgt. Hemmerick’s vehicle, facing directly at him. Sgt. Hemmerick was fearful that Mr. Charette was going to ram his vehicle and therefore as a result of that, Sgt. Hemmerick rammed Mr. Charette’s vehicle,” Crown Attorney Evans said.
Charette was able to “break free” from the cruiser and the chase continued with Sgt. Hardy in pursuit.
Charette later lost control and rolled in the west ditch of Dewer Road, where he was ejected from the vehicle.
After being taken to hospital for treatment, blood tests revealed Charette’s blood alcohol level was 0.14 (140 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood).
Since Charette was injured during a police pursuit, the case was investigated by the province’s Special Investigations Unit.
Defence lawyer Don Johnson said the factual evidence is “certainly nothing to be proud of” and his client has been under “a cloud of alcoholism since his mid-teens.”
Johnson said the night in question constitutes a “horrendous set of facts.”
“Obviously, Mr. Charette is going to have a long road ahead of him with regards to treatment.”
Crown Attorney Elaine Evans recounted many aggravating factors in the case.
“He was out on conditions to not consume alcohol … he had outstanding warrants. In essence, he was doing virtually everything wrong that evening. It’s fortunate was nobody was seriously hurt. The only individual who was, which is unusual in these circumstances, was Mr. Charette when he was ejected from the vehicle,” Evans said.
Charette also addressed the court.
“I would just like to let you know, your honour, that I’ve learned by lesson this time. I do want to seek help to get myself straightened out. This isn’t a road I want to go down. As the Crown said, I’m very fortunate I did not hurt nobody this time,” Charette said.
“I listened to what you had to say,” Judge Franco Giamberardino said, “and you made reference to not wanting to hurt other people. The reality of this particular circumstance is that you almost killed yourself. But it’s important you do take into account what we’re dealing with are the other people out there, the police officers just doing their job and the civilians,” the judge said.
“If you take those thoughts with you as you move forward, Mr. Charette, you may be able to move in the correct direction,” Giamberardino said.
Charette will spend 12 months in jail, which does not include the 62 days he’s already spent in custody.
On a request from Charette, he will serve his sentence at the Ontario Correctional Institute in Brampton, Ont. which specializes in treating alcohol addiction.
Once he serves his sentence, Charette will be on probation for two years – the first six months he will not be allowed to buy, possess or consume alcohol.
Charette has to undergo all counseling recommended by his probation officer.
He will be prohibited from driving for five years and is banned from owing or possessing weapons for 10 years. He also has to submit a DNA sample.
There is a no-contact order with all the members of the birthday party on the night of the offence.