Local Journalism Initiative
A British Columbia man was given a 12 month conditional discharge following an early morning drive which ended with a dive into a Port Franks swamp.
Sarnia court heard David Heintz, 33, and his fiancé recently moved to Ontario from BC.
On Jan. 16 this year witnesses awoke to find a truck had gone off the road and crashed into a tree in a marshy stretch of Outer Dr. in the Port Franks community.
A man was wandering around asking for help towing the vehicle out of the swamp.
Police arrived and found Heintz appear to be inebriated. He had trouble standing, was slurring his speech, and making animated body movements. After dropping his phone and breaking the screen, Heintz was asked for ID. He instead pulled out several baggies of pills.
Heintz was arrested.
When police spoke with Heintz’s fiancé she said the couple had argued the night before, and after drinking a whole bottle of scotch, Heintz had left the house.
The woman went to sleep, but later awoke to the sound of her truck starting and taking off. She was upset and said she had not given him permission to drive the truck.
Defense lawyer James Guggisberg says the accident resulted from “an odd night that I understand to be an aberration for an otherwise healthy relationship.”
He says the couple remain together and Heintz’s fiancé doesn’t want him to go to jail. The pair are planning to move back to BC soon.
Justice Krista Leszczynski called the events “a very troubling set of circumstances.”
She says the single count of taking the truck without consent “does not necessarily capture all of the circumstances that occurred,” noting Heintz was not facing charges for the crash or possibly being inebriated.
But she says jail time was not in the public interest, and Heintz’s fiancé wasn’t pursuing more serious charges. As part of his year-long probation Heintz will have to take counselling for domestic violence and substance abuse.