A Corner Brook man with a lengthy criminal record for driving violations and court order breaches narrowly avoided being sent to prison Wednesday.
Judge Wayne Gorman said it was with reluctance that he accepted the Crown’s suggestion of a seven-month conditional sentence for Travis Watkins.
Watkins, 25, entered guilty pleas to two counts of driving while disqualified and two court order breaches when he appeared in provincial court. Crown attorney Adam Sparkes withdrew five other charges, including two counts of public mischief for making misleading statements to the police and diverting suspicion to an innocent person.
Summary offence tickets for driving an uninsured, unregistered all-terrain vehicle and wearing no helmet while doing so were also withdrawn.
Watkins was charged last February after police on patrol in the Curling area of Corner Brook found and seized an abandoned trike on the side of a street.
The next morning, Watkins told police his trike had been stolen. Little did he know, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was already aware of social media posts made by Watkins that indicated he had ran out of gas while riding his trike the night before.
Watkins also alleged that another person had taken the machine without consent, though eventually conceded it had been him.
At the time of his arrest, Watkins was disqualified from driving any type of motorized vehicle and owed more than $13,000 in traffic fines.
Watkins was charged again in September when an officer tried to stop him while he was driving the same trike in the Curling area. Watkins stopped the machine, but fled and was later arrested at his house.
He admitted to being the driver this time.
Sparkes felt Watkins should be given one last chance to abide by the law, even though he doesn’t seem to get the message he has been prohibited from driving.
Defence counsel Peter Chaffey agreed with house arrest because it would allow Watkins to continue pursuing schooling and have access to his child.
Gorman said the sticking point is the lack of respect for court orders Watkins has shown in the past.
In fact, the judge said he is amazed by how many people disobey court orders without giving it a second thought and that a stronger message needs to be sent.
Gorman said, although the sentence was more lenient than deserved, the positive steps being taken by Watkins to better himself compelled him to accept the Crown’s submission on sentencing.