NANAIMO — A prolific offender will spend a significant amount of time behind bars after his sentencing hearing.
Tyler Fong, 33, previously pleaded guilty to 20 charges, stemming from drug possession, breaking and entering, two high-speed chases with police and escaping custody. He appeared at Provincial Court in Nanaimo with his family on Thursday.
According to the facts presented in the hearing, in early 2015 Fong fled from a Duncan house he'd broke into, leading North Cowichan Duncan RCMP on a lengthy chase, blowing red lights and driving into oncoming traffic. He escaped since RCMP had to pull back since it was deemed too dangerous to pursue.
The next day around noon, he was spotted in a parking lot in Nanaimo. RCMP boxed his car in, but he rammed the police cruisers out of the way while officers tried to arrest him. The chase stretched from the parking lot onto the Duke Point Highway.
His car ran over police spikes put out by officers, damaging the wheels. Fong then fled the car into traffic and tried to carjack several motorists. With police in pursuit, Fong ran into the middle of a nearby river for roughly two minutes before he returned to the shore and was arrested.
Then in October 2015, Fong was taken from prison to Victoria General Hospital for treatment when he fled, stole a car from the parking lot and disappeared for 17 days. He was re-captured and has been in custody since.
Crown attorney Carlie Cromlish argued for a 10 year sentence based on the severity and high number of charges. She said Fong showed little regard for public safety or the law and there's a high chance he'll re-offend.
At the time of his appearance, he has 67 convictions on his record over 17 years.
Regarding the severity of the two car chases with RCMP, Cromlish said “It's pure luck and happenstance Mr. Fong hasn't killed anyone on the road.”
Defense lawyer Mark Swartz said a seven year sentence was appropriate for the crimes and argued some of the sentences should be served concurrently instead of consecutively, which brought his submission down from what the Crown proposed.
Swartz said Fong suffered a rough childhood, riddled with parental substance abuse, foster care for a short time and a stint at the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre before he was asked to leave due to his disruptive behaviour.
A psychiatric report submitted in the hearing said Fong is impulsive and reckless because of severe ADHD and was self-medicating with drugs.
He had previously stayed with the VisionQuest Recovery Society, which Swartz said wasn't sufficient. Staying in a residential treatment to be serious about his various addictions was recommended.
Before the hearing finished, Fong addressed the court directly.
As his voice cracked and tears rolled down his face, he said he's been better in recent months with new medication and felt remorse for his actions.
“I know that going into someone's house and taking something they worked hard for isn't a nice thing to do. I'm willing to do anything it takes to change so that when I get out I'm a good person in society and I can right my wrongs and do some good.”
Judge Ron Lamperson will make his decision Thursday, May 18.
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