Judge needs time to decide fate of man convicted to impaired charges

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PICTOU – A Stellarton man charged with impaired driving will have to wait a few weeks before he finds out if he faces jail time.

Paul Andrew Roberts, 47, pleaded guilty to two charges of driving while impaired by alcohol and one count of assault. His sentencing began Tuesday in Pictou Provincial Court with the Crown and defence agreeing that Roberts should serve his sentencing in the community on a conditional sentence for the impaired charges, but Judge Del Atwood wanted some time to determine if such a sentence was appropriate.

Crown attorney Jody McNeill told the court that Roberts was first charged in September 2013 when a motorist reported seeing some young men waving down vehicles on the side of the highway near Salt Springs.

When RCMP responded they found Roberts on the side of the embankment, vomiting and barely standing on his own. The young men told the police their father was driving from Halifax when he became ill and had to pull over.

Police managed to get Roberts up the embankment and quickly noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath and he had trouble walking on his own. He was transported to the Aberdeen Hospital where blood samples were taken for medical tests, but later sent for forensic testing to determine his blood-alcohol levels since he refused to give officers a sample of his breath.

Testing determined that 7:10 p.m. on the day in question, Roberts alcohol levels would have been between 241 and 305 mg in a 100 ml of blood which is well above the legal limit of 80 mg in 100 ml of blood.

Roberts was stopped again by RCMP in February when an officer noticed a vehicle travelling at a very high rate of speed in Coalburn. The police officer noticed a smell of alcohol on Roberts’s breath and his eyes were bloodshot and puffy.

His alcohol levels registered at 200 mg in 100 ml of blood on this day.

In addition to the impaired driving charges, Roberts also pleaded guilty to an assault charge involving an ex-girlfriend. Police responded to a call in Westville in May and the victim stated that Roberts hit her in the jaw and grabbed her arm with a five-year-old child present in the room.

The Crown and defence agreed that a 60-day conditional sentence would be appropriate for the two impaired driving charges, 15 days of which would be served under house arrest, followed by 12 months’ probation. McNeill recommended the total sentence for the impaired and assault charges equal 90 days CSO with 30 days’ house arrest. 

Defence lawyer Tim Daley said his client is currently employed part time and has not had a drink of alcohol since his last impaired driving charge. He said he also underwent counselling at Crosby House in New Minas and is currently involved with Alcohols Anonymous.

He said his client has admitted he has a long-standing problem with alcohol and depression, but he has the support of family.

“He hopes he will be able to put his life back together in a healthy way,” Daley said.

Atwood raised concern that Roberts’s pre-sentence report stated that he did attend treatment sessions at Crosby House but failed to remain in contact with the addictions centre despite its repeated attempts to get hold of him.

He also pointed out that there are several aggravating factors in the case including his high level of alcohol in his blood and that one impaired driving charge was laid after he was already charged.

Atwood invited both the Crown and defence to submit further legal briefs before he decides if a conditional sentence is appropriate. Roberts will return to court Aug. 20 to learn his fate.

Organizations: RCMP, Aberdeen Hospital, Crosby House

Geographic location: Salt Springs, Halifax, Coalburn New Minas

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