Man undergoing addiction treatment avoids jail time

Published on January 21, 2014

PICTOU – A Westville man charged with drunk driving of a snow-plowing tractor a year ago received a curative discharge sentence Tuesday in provincial court in Pictou.

Judge Del Atwood told Christopher Daniel Walsh, of Cowan Street, Westville, it was evident from those who testified on his behalf that he has made a major modification in his life in recent months. With two previous convictions for drunk driving, Walsh was facing mandatory jail time had his application for a curative discharge been rejected.

Walsh’s mother, family doctor, a psychiatrist and an addictions counsellor all testified that he is motivated to deal with his long-term abuse of alcohol as a means of self-medicating for serious social anxiety issues.

Atwood said a jail sentence would protect the public for specific period of time but allowing Walsh to continue on a rehabilitative course may be a better investment.

“There is always the risk of relapse but given the support he has from his family and in the community that risk is manageable,” he said.

Walsh, who was also charged with property damage and breaches of a probation order, will have to pay $2,600 in property damage to two homeowners whose lawns and backyards he damaged with the tractor. He will be under house arrest for nine months and under a list of strict conditions for another nine months. A five-year driving prohibition was imposed and Walsh will be required to pay $300 in victim surcharges.

Walsh is also required to continue counselling and treatment through addictions services and privately with a counselor from the Eagles’ Nest rehabilitation program.