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Pinchgut Lake man who assaulted officers at highway accident scene pleads guilty

Terrance Joseph Blanchard is seen during a recent appearance in provincial court in this file photo.
Terrance Joseph Blanchard is seen during a recent appearance in provincial court in this file photo.

A Pinchgut Lake man charged after a violent altercation with police at an accident scene on Route 440 in July opted not to go to trial as planned Tuesday.

Terrance Joseph Blanchard, 54, was also charged in August after an all-terrain vehicle he was operating was involved in a collision that injured a man.

A one-day trial had been set for Blanchard in provincial court in Corner Brook.

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Just as the trial was about to start Tuesday morning, his lawyer informed Judge Wayne Gorman that Blanchard would be changing his pleas.

Defence counsel Bob Matthews entered the guilty pleas to seven of the 15 offences listed on the court docket. Crown attorney Ashley Targett withdrew the remaining eight charges.

He entered guilty pleas to two counts of assaulting a police officer, a charge of uttering threats, a charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and three breaches of court orders.

When Targett read out the facts of the case, the court heard how Blanchard had proceeded to speed past a string of vehicles that had been stopped on the north shore of the Bay of Islands highway as police and other emergency personnel dealt with an accident scene July 19.

When he was stopped, Blanchard told officers his wife was in labour and he had to get through. Police began making arrangements for Blanchard to get through but, before that happened, Blanchard began arguing with one officer.

Another officer, who had noticed Blanchard becoming upset and screaming at the officer dealing with him, began to approach, but Blanchard began walking away.

A third officer walked towards Blanchard and began asking him what his issue was. At that point, Blanchard walked back towards the initial officer he had been talking to, kicked off his sandals and confronted the officer, challenging him to a fight.

When asked again what his issue was, Blanchard clenched his fist and tried to punch the officer. He was then placed under arrest, but resisted being taken into custody.

A civilian watching the scene unfold got out of his truck and helped police subdue Blanchard as a fourth officer also got involved. When he was finally placed in a patrol car, Blanchard was still swearing and yelling and began kicking at the windows and doors.

At that point he was taken out of the police vehicle and had leg restraints placed on him.

A woman officer who was also at the scene then informed her colleagues that Blanchard had assaulted her just before the altercation that led to his arrest. She said she had been telling Blanchard to step back and move away from the accident scene.

She said he had insulted her and had punched her in the upper arm.

When Blanchard was being escorted back to the police station, he threatened to kill the officer he had challenged to a fight. Blanchard also told the officer he had connections with the organized crime world and that the officer’s family was not safe either.

Blanchard was held in custody until his release Aug. 3, but was arrested again Aug. 14 after a man complained Blanchard was driving an all-terrain vehicle that had struck the man two days before.

According to the facts read into the court record, the man was driving a dual-purpose motorcycle on the former railbed trail near Logger School Road west of Corner Brook. As he negotiated a sharp turn, the man saw an ATV approaching him at a high rate of speed.

The victim said he had to jump off his bike and into the trees in order to avoid a more serious collision, but the passing ATV still hit him in the shin. He also hurt his shoulder from the unexpected hop off the bike.

The ATV, which was being operated by Blanchard, drove over the man’s bike.

The victim said Blanchard did come back to see if he was OK and help him find a boot that had come off during the collision. Blanchard told the man he had insurance, but didn’t have it on him.

When the man later went to Blanchard’s home in Pinchgut Lake to get the insurance information, he said Blanchard became confrontational.

Blanchard was subject to a probation order and an undertaking to keep the peace and be of good behavior at the time of both incidents for which he was charged.

Targett asked for a sentence that totaled 120 days in prison, plus another four months of house arrest, followed by 12 months of probation and a one-year driving prohibition.

Matthews said his client had no problem with the Crown’s suggestions for sentencing, noting that with credit for time spent in custody prior to sentencing, Blanchard should be released immediately to start serving the four-month conditional sentence.

Gorman said he wanted some time to consider all the facts and the sentencing submissions. He will sentence Blanchard Thursday.

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