SARNIA -- A Petrolia-area man, who claimed a mystery driver was behind the wheel of his car during a high-speed police chase, was jailed for 30 days yesterday.
Jarod Brand, 30, was convicted of dangerous driving and failing to stop for police on May 3, 2008, following a three-day trial over three months.
The identification of Brand was the key issue, and defence lawyer Phil Cornish argued an OPP officer's identification might have been an "overzealous assessment."
The officer had seen the driver momentarily as he ran random licence plate checks near Indian Road and Confederation Street. A check confirmed Brand owned the vehicle, and he knew Brand to be a suspended driver because he had previously dealt with him.
An eight-kilometre police pursuit through Sarnia and into Lambton County reached speeds of 160 kilometres per hour. The vehicle wove in and out of traffic and ran two red lights.
At one point, it turned right from a left lane passing in front of two cars stopped at a light.
"It was an accident waiting to happen," said Justice Mark Hornblower.
An OPP sergeant monitoring events at a communication centre halted the pursuit because the driving was so extreme, said assistant Crown attorney R.L. McFalls.
The pursuing officer continued to follow the vehicle from a distance but lost sight of it.
A short time later, a man parked the car at a Churchill Line property and used a neighbour's phone to call for a ride.
The neighbour identified the man as Brand, and later confirmed Brand's identity when he later appeared at an office where she worked.
Brand testified that he was not the driver and hadn't been to the Churchill Line home.
He said he had sold the car, a 22-year-old Mazda RX-7, for $500 to a man he didn't know and couldn't identify, claiming the sale was made two days before the pursuit.
No receipt was provided, the licence plates were not removed and the ownership had not changed.
Hornblower described Brand's explanation about the mystery man as "absurd." But rejecting that evidence doesn't mean he was the driver, the judge added.
Collective evidence from the officer and the neighbour, along with what was found in the car, including a note in handwriting similar to Brand's, established he was the driver, said Hornblower.
Cornish sought a fine, but Hornblower said jail time was needed and imposed an 18-month driving ban.