The Province

Drugs ‘a factor’ in abduction case — lawyer

- BY JENNIFER SALTMAN THE PROVINCE jensaltman@theprovinc­

The prospect of losing access to his son, combined with his escalating cocaine use, led a White Rock man to assault his wife and abduct their fouryear-old last fall.

The actions have cost Benjamin James Mcbeath dearly, his lawyer argued during a sentencing hearing in B.C. Provincial Court in Surrey on Thursday.

“He certainly will suffer the rest of his life the stigma of these conviction­s,” lawyer Mark Rowan said.

Mcbeath pleaded guilty in December to abducting a person under 16, assault, and being in a dwelling house without a lawful excuse.

On Sept. 27, 2011, Mcbeath’s wife, who had sought two restrainin­g orders against him, found him in her bedroom. Mcbeath put her in a choke hold and carried her to her car, where their son was already strapped into his car seat.

Mcbeath drove them to his house. There the wife tried to get out of the car and screamed for help, attracting the attention of neighbours. Mcbeath drove off with his son and an Amber Alert was issued a short time later.

Rowan said that as Mcbeath drove around, he received a call from him, saying he was suicidal and wanted to know what to do with his son.

“I ripped a strip off him and told him he couldn’t commit suicide,” Rowan said.

Rowan liaised with police and mcbeath was arrested in South Surrey.

Rowan asked for a sentence of time served — Mcbeath has been in jail since the offences — followed by three years of probation, including counsellin­g.

Rowan said a doctor’s report shows Mcbeath abused cocaine and opiates after his marriage broke down and his wife tried to get sole custody of his son, and at the time of the crimes he was suffering from sleeplessn­ess, depression and suicidal thinking brought on by drug use.

“The separation from the child had a very serious and negative effect on Mr. Mcbeath,” Rowan said.

Since then he has abstained from drugs and taken all courses available to him in pretrial custody.

Rowan said Mcbeath regrets his actions and is ready to accept his punishment and show that he can be a good citizen again.

Prosecutor brian shaw wants mcbeath to serve a federal prison sentence because he has a history of violence, remains a danger to the community and his wife and there are more appropriat­e programs in the federal system.

“He might talk the talk... but he doesn’t walk the walk,” Shaw said.

Sentencing will take place at a later date.

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