Conditional sentence, probation for M’Chigeeng man after guilty plea in ‘bizarre’ loader incident

GORE BAY—A 26-year-old man from M’Chigeeng First Nation will spend six months under house arrest and another 18 months under a probation order after pleading guilty to two counts of mischief over $5,000, contrary to section 430(3) of the Criminal Code (CC), and theft of a motor vehicle, contrary to section 333.1 of the CC.

The court heard that on August 7, 2021 officers from UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service attended a single motor vehicle collision on Highway 551, where they observed a male attempting to remove a vehicle from a ditch using tow hooks. On police arrival, the male fled from the scene on foot. Witnesses identified the driver as Zackry Bayer. The 2007 GMC Sierra was registered to Mr. Bayer.

Later that same evening, UCCM Police were advised that a large front-end loader missing a rear tire was going through the M’Chigeeng neighbourhood known as Pinewood Park. Police attended immediately and observed damage to the asphalt as the vehicle turned onto Riverside Drive. The loader did not stop when emergency lights were activated and continued into a yard on Pine Street.

It was clear the loader had to be stopped to prevent large scale damage and for the immediate threat to public safety. The loader entered into the backyard of a residence on Pine Street, narrowly missing a house with residents inside, and became stuck. The driver fled on foot and was pursued by an officer while another entered the loader, took it out of gear and turned it off.

The male was identified as the same male from the earlier occurrence. He fled to a residence on Riverside Drive, where he was arrested by UCCM Police officers.

The front-end loader, owned by Corbiere Enterprises, had been taken from the land transfer station on Cross Hill Road and driven through the trail that connects to Corbiere Enterprises’ gravel pit nearby. The loader then knocked over a conveyor rock separator, damaging the equipment. The damage to Corbiere Enterprises equipment was $24,686.21.

Before driving the loader to the residential neighbourhood, Mr. Bayer drove to the abattoir property located on Highway 540 and owned by Richard and Miriam Williams, where he caused $67,160 in damage. The Williams’ property was uninsured.

Justice Jessica Wolfe referred to the incident as “bizarre” before agreeing to the joint submission for a six-month conditional sentence, 18 months probation and 100 hours of community service. Mr. Bayer was also issued a restitution order to cover the specified losses, totaling $91,846.21. Mr. Bayer has no prior criminal record.

The community service order is “a good gesture you can make to try to correct some of what’s happened,” Justice Wolfe told Mr. Bayer. She encouraged him to engage in that service with an open mind and an open heart. “You’re a member of that community too,” she said. “People need to see each other helping each other out instead of causing more harm.”

Additional charges relating to the incident were withdrawn.