High Prairie woman steals truck, crashes at Canyon Creek

A High Prairie woman was sentenced in Slave Lake Court of Justice Feb. 7 for her part in a motor vehicle theft that end up in a crash at Canyon Creek.

April Jade Cox, 29, from High Prairie, appeared by phone from Edmonton Remand Centre and pleaded guilty to obstructing a peace officer, theft of a motor vehicle, and breaching a conditional sentence order.

Crown prosecutor Adrienne Shapka told court that on Dec. 29, 2023 at 2 p.m., Cox’s father reported his truck stolen to the High Prairie RCMP. Cox was under a conditional sentence order which included living with her father. At the time of the incident, she did not have a driver’s licence and did not have permission to take her dad’s truck.

Court heard her father kept the keys in his room. He was at his computer, when he heard his truck start. He looked out the window and saw Cox backing the truck out of the driveway.

That evening, around 6:45 p.m. Slave Lake RCMP were called to a collision near Canyon Creek, court heard. The other driver was taken to the hospital. Cox was the person at fault and the truck was the one stolen from her father. When asked her name, Cox gave a false name three times, but police were later able to figure out who she was.

When all of this was happening, Cox was under a conditional sentence order which included the condition to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. The two other crimes are evidence of a breach.

Cox has a short, but related criminal record submitted to court, including a 2022 conviction for obstruction and a breach of the sentence order from November 2023.

Court heard Cox is addicted to methamphetamine and was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, said Lisa Trach, who was representing her. Court also heard Cox’s mother left when she was five. She was raised by her father in Valleyview.

Cox also struggles to take her medication. She’s been in custody since Dec. 29 and been taking her medication since then.

The Crown asked for 30 to 60 days for theft of a motor vehicle, one day for obstruction, and 60 days for the breach. Aggravating factors regarding the theft included the accident, said Shapka.

Trach replied since this was Cox’s first property crime that 30 days was too high. She asked for one day instead. Regarding the breach, she recommended 15 days.

“Her clocks not ticking while she’s in custody,” she said about the conditional sentence order.

Justice S.P. Hinkley said that the short time between the two breaches was aggravating. On Nov. 27, 2023, Justice Hinkley sentenced her for her first breach. She had 15 days left to serve, so the second breach happened within a month of her being released from jail, he noted.

However, the guilty plea and lack of previous property crimes were mitigating factors.

Justice Hinkley added he had no doubt that the mental illness and addictions were the underlying factors; however, the crimes were still serious.

Cox was sentenced to 30 days for theft, one day concurrent for obstruction, and 30 days consecutive for the breach. The sentence equalled time already served.

Upon her release, the conditional sentence order starts again. It was originally until May 2024, but will be extended because it was paused while she was in jail.

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