Just don’t drive, judge tells Campbell River logger with ‘unenviable’ record

In January 2012, he was caught behind the wheel again and then once more the following month

After five convictions for driving while prohibited, combined with longer and longer jail sentences, the judge had one piece of advice for Jason Verhaeghe.

“Just don’t drive,” said Judge Ted Gouge.

Verhaeghe is back behind bars after receiving a 105-day sentence on Monday in Campbell River provincial court. He appeared by video from cells in Victoria, where he’s been since March 15, when he was arrested on a warrant in Campbell River.

The longtime logger admitted to long-ago substance abuse troubles, but those days are past. Now, he’s working to support a daughter attending university, and to get to some jobs, he chose to drive. And that’s what has led to most of his problems.

“He’s quite remorseful,” said Bobby Movassaghi, an article law student representing Verhaeghe on behalf of a Victoria law firm. “It’s a somewhat unenviable driving record…the driving wasn’t reckless and he wasn’t impaired…”

Verhaeghe’s first driving while prohibited offence occurred in 2007. A second, and more serious, offence took place in January 2009 when he was also charged with threatening and assault of a police officer.

As part of his sentence, Verhaeghe received a three-year driving prohibition. He was handed another one-year driving prohibitions and 90 days jail for this third conviction in 2011.

Then in January 2012, he was caught behind the wheel again and then once more the following month. As a result, he was handed a 120-day jail sentence to be served on weekends at the Courtenay RCMP detachment.

However, Verhaeghe was free on a recognizance on Aug. 23, 2012, when police checked out a vehicle parked at the Quinsam Crossing Shell station in Campbell River. Turned out the plates were stolen and Verhaeghe was the driver. This time he wasn’t charged with driving while prohibited, but he was charged with driving an uninsured vehicle, possession of stolen property under $5,000 and breach of a recognizance. On Friday, Nov. 23, Verhaeghe said he was working when he should have been in a RCMP jail cell which led to a charge of being unlawfully at large, and then he failed to show up for a trial confirmation hearing at the Campbell River courthouse on Jan. 7.

A warrant was issued and on March 15 police went a residence on 7th Avenue in Campbell River. Verhaeghe answered the door, but provided false identification to the officers.

When officers pressed him, Verhaeghe became confused about his age. Police then reported he let out an audible sigh and said, “Let me get my jacket boys.”

He’s been in custody since then. At Monday’s court appearance, Verhaeghe pleaded guilty to four charges. In exchange, the Crown dropped charges of possession of stolen property and driving an uninsured vehicle. In a joint submission to the judge, Verhaeghe will serve out the remainder of his intermittent sentence, 45 days, plus another 60 days behind bars.