|Oxford County Crown attorney Brian Crockett enters the courthouse in London, Ont. during the Michael Rafferty case. Crockett has been charged with impaired driving and failing to provide a breath sample after an incident in Woodstock on Saturday. (MIKE HENSEN/QMI Agency Files)
WOODSTOCK, Ont. — Oxford County’s Crown attorney faces impaired driving charges after a man driving a pickup truck got stuck in a ditch and sparked a grass fire trying to get out.
Police and fire responded to the 911 fire call Saturday afternoon in Woodstock’s north end.
Once on scene, police determined the driver of the pickup truck was trying to reverse his vehicle from a walking trail entrance when it got stuck in a ditch.
When the driver attempted to get the vehicle out, a small grass fire ignited from the engine being revved.
Police later charged Brian Crockett, 64, with impaired driving and failing to provide a breath sample.
The highly regarded lawyer is one of the Crown attorneys involved in the conviction of Michael Rafferty for the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford.
Crockett and police are not commenting on the charges.
Crockett is no stranger to impaired driving cases, having acted as Crown attorney prosecuting many of those offences in court.
He has a history of recommending stiff punishment for first-time offenders.
“This is an issue in which general deterrence is a consideration,” Crockett said during a 2005 impaired driving case.
“Even though (the accused) didn't have a criminal record prior to the conviction, the circumstances surrounding the driving warrant a jail sentence.”
Crockett was officially sworn as the Crown attorney for Oxford County on June 29, 2007, but had served as acting Crown attorney for the county since October 2003.
“I don't take the job of Crown attorney lightly,” Crockett said at the time.
Crockett came to Oxford County in 1977 after being called to the bar. He was a defence lawyer, primarily in criminal law, for about 12 years before being sworn in as assistant Crown attorney.
“He has done an outstanding job,” said Marc Garson, director of Crown operations for west region, when Crockett was sworn in.
“What makes him different from so many others is that he has a good soul. That good soul allows him to be an excellent Crown attorney.”
Crockett could have retired in 2009, but elected not to do so because he loved being in the courtroom. The best thing, he said, about being a Crown is that you are in the courtroom every day.
“I love practising in this county,” he said. “The courtroom is fun, it's therapeutic and intellectually challenging.”
As Oxford Crown attorney, Crockett earned $199,726.15 in 2011, according to the “sunshine list,” which the Ministry of Finance, under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, released, listing public-sector employees with salaries of over $100,000.
Crockett is also the chair of the Woodstock Public Library board.