Crown drops charges against pair of farm­ers ar­rested in trac­tor check­stop

Medicine Hat News - - COMMUNITY-WEST - BILL GRAVELAND

CAL­GARY

The Al­berta Crown has with­drawn charges against two young farm­ers fol­low­ing a run-in with sher­iffs at a check­stop where their trac­tor was towed away.

Jeremia Leussink, 19, was tak­ing the trac­tor from one field to an­other on July 31 when he was stopped by pro­vin­cial sher­iffs at a high­way check­stop near Didsbury, Alta., north of Cal­gary.

Fam­ily mem­bers have said that frus­trated by a long line of cars, he drove into a ditch to get into the other field, prompt­ing sher­iffs to pull him out of the trac­tor and de­mand he take a breath­a­lyzer.

His 21-year-old brother, Do­minic Leussink, showed up and got in­volved in the dis­pute.

Jeremia Leussink was charged with sev­eral offences, in­clud­ing re­sist­ing ar­rest and fail­ing to take a breath­a­lyzer. Do­minic Leussink, was charged with ob­struct­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer and caus­ing a dis­tur­bance.

“Their charges were with­drawn,” Cal­gary lawyer Tonii Roul­ston said Thurs­day in an in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press.

“I think af­ter the Crown did a proper as­sess­ment of the case with the re­spect to a rea­son­able like­li­hood of con­vic­tion and, not to speak for him, but how per­haps the in­ter­ac­tion with po­lice was han­dled.”

She said the two broth­ers are re­lieved.

“They’d never been in­volved in the jus­tice sys­tem, so they were very over­whelmed ini­tially.”

Fam­ily mem­bers, on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay le­gal costs, said the younger Leussink brother was busy farm­ing while be­ing home-schooled and doesn’t drink al­co­hol.

Roul­ston said she’s still dis­sat­is­fied with what hap­pened to her clients and al­leges Jeremia Leussink was “roughed up” by sher­iffs when they pulled him out of the trac­tor.

“It ought to have been as­sessed ini­tially with re­spect to when you have a lineup of cars on the high­way that are there for a check­stop and your fo­cus be­comes this farmer, who ac­tu­ally is just go­ing down the road to get to an­other field,” she said.

“I don’t think it worked re­ally well at the begin­ning. Even­tu­ally we had a Crown pros­e­cu­tor who was ex­pe­ri­enced who fi­nally made the right de­ci­sion.”

Roul­ston said there are still some other le­gal mat­ters to be dealt with.

Be­cause Jeremia Leussink was charged with fail­ing to take a breath­a­lyzer, his learner’s li­cence was au­to­mat­i­cally sus­pended, said Roul­ston.

“Once some­one gets any sort of im­paired driv­ing charge, he’s now is un­der sus­pen­sion for 15 months, even though the crim­i­nal charges are with­drawn.”

She said she is likely to ap­peal the li­cence sus­pen­sion. An­other law firm will be in civil court try­ing to re­coup costs for a $300 im­pound charge for the trac­tor, as well as for dam­ages to the $300,000-ma­chine when it was towed, she said.

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