Chase over

Police released this image of a stolen SUV that rolled onto its side as its driver tried to escape from police in April in Okanagan Falls.

A chronic offender who led police on a high-speed chase in Oliver and later crashed his stolen vehicle through two fences in Okanagan Falls earlier this year was sentenced Monday to 16 months in jail.

But with enhanced credit for time served, Seamus Kirby, 29, has just shy of six months left to serve.

He pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to two counts of dangerous driving in connection with the two related incidents.

As part of a plea agreement, Kirby was also sentenced to two years’ probation to be served once released from jail, and banned from driving for three years.

Court heard Kirby was spotted by a police officer behind the wheel of a black GMC Terrain SUV as it left an Oliver gas station on March 31. The officer, knowing the SUV had been reported stolen in Penticton two weeks earlier and that Kirby was a prohibited driver, gave chase.

Kirby then took off at high speed and drove into oncoming traffic, prompting the Mountie to call off the pursuit.

Plainclothes officers the following morning, April 1, spotted the GMC Terrain parked outside a home on Maple Street in Okanagan Falls and kept surveillance on it until Kirby got in the vehicle and began driving away through an alley.

Officers in two police vehicles began driving down the alley in the opposite direction in an attempt to block Kirby.

“Mr. Kirby accelerated his vehicle forward, suddenly and without warning, ramming into the front of (one) police vehicle,” Crown counsel Kurt Froehlich said as he recounted the circumstances for the court.

“He then reversed the GMC, and in the process of doing so backed into and through an adjoining fence in this alleyway, which was constructed of cinder blocks.”

Kirby managed to get the SUV out of that fence, but then drove directly into another fence across the alley, and somehow rolled his vehicle onto the driver’s door in the process. He was arrested after crawling out a window.

Court heard Kirby had 37 prior criminal convictions, mostly breaches of court orders, but the most recent of which was robbery.

Froehlich cited Kirby’s record as an aggravating factor – “particularly the fact he was on probation for his most recent robbery conviction when these offences occurred.”

That record also “represents a young man who was involved with drugs, which in turn resulted in criminal behaviour,” replied Aileen Maningas, who appeared as agent for defence counsel Michael Patterson.

“He’s aware of the destruction he has caused and he is very remorseful,” added Maningas.