Island men plead guilty to driving related offences

GORE BAY—Two Island men have pleaded guilty to driving related offences, opting for virtual hearings at the Gore Bay Courthouse rather than waiting for in-person hearings to resume. Patrick Ominika of Wiikwemkoong pleaded guilty to charges of impaired driving and refusing to provide a breath sample. A third charge of dangerous driving was withdrawn. Samuel Ross of Sheshegwaning pleaded guilty to driving while prohibited and driving without insurance.

On December 19, 2019, officers from Wikwemikong Tribal Police Service noticed a vehicle with one headlight approaching them at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was weaving outside of its lane towards the centre of the road and into the oncoming lane. The officers followed the vehicle and after turning their lights on to make a traffic stop, the vehicle pulled into the parking lot at Andy’s. When Mr. Ominika exited the vehicle he was observed to be walking with an unsteady gait. When requested, Mr. Ominika refused to provide a breath sample several times. He was arrested and taken to the Wiikwemkoong detachment. A passenger in the vehicle was allowed to walk home from the scene.

A joint submission from the Crown Attorney’s office and defence suggested a 90-day conditional sentencing order was more appropriate than the automatic 30-day jail sentence. He was ordered to reside at his home and be subject to a curfew. Taking into consideration a previous impaired driving conviction, Mr. Ominika was also issued a two-year driving prohibition.

Justice Jessica Wolfe noted that Canadian parliament wants judges to take drinking and driving offences seriously because even after years of ad campaigns to discourage impaired driving, Canada still has the highest number of impaired related fatalities for all the Commonwealth countries. There are four people killed every day from drinking and driving and the court has to take these charges seriously, she noted. Should Mr. Ominika fail to comply with the terms of his conditional sentence he will serve the remainder in custody.

A driving complaint was called in to the OPP on the morning of January 21, 2020. Police were dispatched to Highway 540 between Sheshegwaning and Gore Bay to locate a grey Pontiac Trans Am that was being operated by an uninsured, unlicenced driver and had the wrong plates attached. The vehicle was located and as a result of the traffic stop, Samuel Ross was charged. After pleading guilty he was sentenced to one year probation with one of the conditions that Mr. Ross not operate or be in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle during the duration of the probation order. The minimum fine of $5,000 for driving without insurance was waived.

Driving in Canada is a privilege and not a right, Justice Wolfe told Mr. Ross. “That privilege is only open to people who follow the rules,” she said.