PICTOU – A Stellarton man has been handed a lengthy conditional sentence after pleading guilty to driving a vehicle while disqualified.
Darryl Clayton MacKinnon, 37, received the conditional sentence order of two years less a day, which included one year’s house arrest, after being convicted of his ninth illegal driving charge.
Crown attorney Patrick Young told Pictou provincial court that MacKinnon was stopped by police on Dec. 27, 2013, in Stellarton and the officer soon noticed he was subject to a prohibited driving order of 15 years that was laid in 2008.
He said MacKinnon has a total of 24 convictions and nine of them are driving related, which include disqualified, impaired driving and driving while suspended.
MacKinnon’s last offence in 2008 may be dated, said Young, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact that he disobeyed a court order not to drive a vehicle for 15 years.
“Driving while disqualified is a flagrant violation of a court order,” he said. “So when a court imposes a court order for someone not to drive and a person is found, for the ninth time, violating this order, there has to be consequential punishment.”
Young said although MacKinnon has been in jail before because of his past convictions, he could not suggest any other alternative punishment that might help send a message to the accused and public that court orders need to be taken seriously.
He recommended Judge Del Atwood consider a sentence of between six and 18 months in custody followed by a lengthy period of probation.
“When a court order is in place you have to comply with it,” he said. “If you don’t, and you get caught and you are convicted, you will pay the price.”
Defence lawyer Doug Lloy didn’t deny his client’s past prior convictions were a problem, but he noted it’s been five years since his last run in with the law.
He said MacKinnon mentioned in his pre-sentence report that he “didn’t think he would get in that much trouble” by driving a vehicle while disqualified and is remorseful for his actions.
MacKinnon personally apologized to Atwood for driving and disobeying the order, saying that he recently obtained a job and would like to be able to keep it.
“I apologize for what happened,” he said. “I would never have driven if I had known I was going to jail for this. I just finally got a job and I have been working hard. It’s hard to get a job here, especially if you have a criminal record. I apologize. There is no excuse for it.”
Atwood said the Crown’s suggestion of jail time was credible, but decided to go with the defence’s request for a conditional sentence order that also included a 10-year driving prohibition that will begin when his existing order from 2008 ends.
MacKinnon was also ordered to pay $1,500 in victim surcharge fines and he was warned that if he breaches this court order, he could find himself serving out the rest of the time in jail.
“A court order is as important on the last day as it is on the first day,” said the judge.