A North Vancouver man will not face any jail time for his role in causing a North Vancouver RCMP officer’s traumatic brain injury while trying to evade a traffic ticket.
Mark Daniel Webber, 31, was sentenced in North Vancouver provincial court Aug. 30 for wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer and dangerous operation of a conveyance.
“The circumstances of the offence are egregious,” Judge Joanne Challenger said at the outset of her sentencing.
Webber was out for a motorcycle ride with a friend on Feb. 9, 2019, when North Vancouver RCMP officers doing speed enforcement clocked him at 130 kilometres per hour coming down the westbound Lonsdale Avenue on-ramp to Highway 1. Witnesses told police they saw him pulling a wheelie while passing traffic on the right shoulder.
As he approached Westview, officers flagged Webber down to pull him over, but he veered into the fast lane, passing North Vancouver Const. Tyler Smith so closely, it caused the officer to spin around and fall into the concrete median where he hit his head. Webber then flipped his licence plate up and sped off at 215 km/h.
Later, Webber texted photos of the incident, captured by his GoPro camera, to a friend, mocking the officer for attempting to stop him. “Lool,” he wrote. “The look of defeat.”
The incident left Smith with a severe concussion and traumatic brain injury, which he still suffers from. Because of lasting headaches, dizziness and cognitive deficits, Smith has been unable to return to full-time work, the judge noted.
Challenger denounced Webber’s behaviour and the effect it has had.
“He deliberately created a risk to the officers and other members of the public, apparently for sport and for his own amusement. It's caused a complete change in the life of a police officer. That officer will never be the same,” she said.
Challenger also drew attention to Webber’s past criminal record and driving infractions. In 2014, he received a 60-day jail sentence for extortion after he followed through on a threat to send a sexually explicit video of a teenaged girl to a number of her friends on Facebook after she refused to send him nude photographs of herself. In 2018, he also earned a five-month jail sentence for two counts of possession of drugs for the purposes of trafficking.
Challenger also listed 12 driving infractions he’s had since 2009, from failing to display an N or L magnet to speeding and passing on the right.
For the current charges, both the Crown and Webber’s defence lawyer submitted that a six-month conditional sentence be served through house arrest, plus an 18-month driving ban would be appropriate. At a sentencing hearing held for Webber in March, Challenger said she struggled with the request that Webber be spared jail time.
Since then, Webber submitted a series of letters of reference from friends and family, saying he has turned his life around, getting himself off drugs, finding part-time work in the film business and supplementing his income with cryptocurrency trading. He submitted a letter of apology to the court, along with an essay about distracted driving, and he has since taken an ICBC driving safety course.
In light of that, Challenger acquiesced to house arrest.
“I find it difficult, but I nevertheless am accepting what is now effectively the joint submission by the Crown and the defence in this matter,” she said. “He's apparently living a pro-social life and is self-supporting.”
For the next six months, Webber will be under house arrest 24/7 unless his probation officer gives him the OK, or to attend work or for emergency health care. He is also banned from driving for 18 months. In closing, Challenger warned Webber that if he’s found to be violating any of the conditions of his sentence orders, he may have to spend the remainder of his sentence in custody.