Man gets jail time for 2009 Valentine’s Day hit-and-run

News from the June 1 sitting of the Revelstoke Court

A Revelstoke man was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a 2009 hit-and-run incident that left a man with a broken leg that required several surgeries to repair.

Ryan Osachoff, 27, was sentenced in relation to a 2009 incident that left Curtis Hampton with a broken leg that required at least a year to heal.

The incident happened on Feb. 14, 2009, at around 11:30 p.m. on Fourth St. East near Temple Ave. The victim, Curtis Hampton, was walking with friends when a Dodge Dakota pick-up truck swerved into them, striking the victim and speeding off down the road towards Arrow Heights, Crown prosecutor Greg Koturbash told Revelstoke court last Wednesday.

Hampton was left on the roadway with his right leg broken in two spots, and abrasions to his right thigh and elbow. He was taken to Queen Victoria Hospital and later transported to a hospital in Vernon, where he had surgery to fix his leg.

Meanwhile, an RCMP investigation led to a house in Upper Arrow Heights, where the Dakota was seized for investigation.

Osachoff turned himself in to the RCMP on Feb. 16. He told police that he was on anti-depressants and medication to help him stop smoking. He left the house that night because he was hungry. He said he was feeling dizzy while driving back but thought he could make it home.

He was dozing in and out when he felt a bump and though he had hit the curb. He told the RCMP he felt sick to his stomach when he heard what had happened.

The RCMP learned he had been drinking that night and was impaired at the time of the incident.

Shortly before the incident, Osachoff had encountered another group of people and offered them a ride to the bar. One woman in that group said he was aggressive about it but they agreed to get in. After they did, she said Osachoff acted strangely and assaulted her boyfriend before stopping the truck, kicking them out and then speeding off down Downie Street. A little later, he hit Hampton and drove off.

Koturbash told the court that Osachoff said he had no recollection of picking anyone up or hitting anyone.

“It is abundantly clear that alcohol and Mr. Osachoff don’t mix well and when a vehicle is added into the equation, it spells serious trouble,” said defence lawyer Chris Johnston. “He didn’t do it deliberately but it was reckless.”

Hampton’s Victim Impact Statement indicated the extent of his injuries. He wrote he had to have surgery to repair the damage and had a metal plate and screws placed in his leg. In December 2009, he had a bone graft surgery done.

The surgery left him in a cast for about a year and restricted his mobility, lifestyle and ability to drive. He had to move back home with his parents and give up his electrical apprenticeship.

“I urge everyone to think back to their late teens or early twenties. How much would you value a year or more of your life if it was snatched from you?” Hampton wrote. “He never even checked to see if I was still alive.”

This wasn’t Osachoff’s first impaired driving incident, Koturbash said. He was convicted in September 2010 for refusing to provide a breath sample and received 24 hour alcohol-related suspensions in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

At the same time, the court heard Osachoff was working to combat his alcohol problems. He was attending Alcoholics Anonymous, receiving counselling and abstaining from alcohol.

“I’ve done some very nasty things in the past. I feel terrible,” he said. “Not a day goes by where I don’t think about it… I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed.”

Justice Edmond de Walle in handing down his sentence, noted both the severity of Hampton’s injuries and Osachoff’s recklessness, as well his efforts to curb his problems with alcohol.

He sentenced Osachoff to 18 months in prison followed by 12 months on probation and a three year driving prohibition. As part of his probation, he is required to abstain from alcohol and not allowed to have alcohol in his residence at any time.

Homeless man put in jail for causing disturbance

A Revelstoke homeless man was sent to prison after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace in Revelstoke court last week.

Conley Hill, 41, plead guilty to causing a disturbance inside the Revelstoke Employment Services Centre on Feb. 10, 2011 at around 1:30 p.m.

Hill was living in a small camp behind the RESC and the staff there let Hill use the phone and bathroom, Crown prosecutor Greg Koturbash told the court. Over time, his behaviour changed and his drug and alcohol use was more frequent, Koturbash said.

On the day of the incident he came in the RESC but was unable to use the phone. He disturbed a baby in a carriage and refused to leave when asked, leaving staff to call the RCMP, who arrested Hill.

Six weeks later, on Mar. 24, Hill was arrested again for causing a disturbance at the Days Inn.

Koturbash told the court that Hill had an extensive criminal history dating back to 1989 –basically his entire life. He was banished from Revelstoke in the past but committed crimes elsewhere and eventually came back.

Lawyer Chris Johnston, acting as duty counsel for Hill, said Hill had a place to live now and he didn’t know if jail would help.

“Mr. Hill has been crossed around the criminal line due to addiction issues and perhaps mental health issues,” Johnston said. “To use the criminal justice system to help someone with Mr. Hill’s problems is a blunt instrument.”

In the end, Justice Edmond de Walle agreed with the Crown’s recommendation of a four month prison sentence.

“Going to jail is probably not the best thing but it is probably the only realistic alternative at this stage,” said justice Edmond de Walle during sentencing, saying it would allow Hill to “dry out and access treatment.”

Hill was very twitchy during his court appearance, constantly moving about in his seat, jerking his arms and shoulders and scratching his face. He complained of a broken shoulder when the sherriff placed him in handcuffs and removed him from the court room.

Melissa Jameson, the Community Connections homeless outreach worker, was in court with Mr. Hill but declined to comment on the case citing confidentiality agreements.