A 32-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in jail for leading police on a two-hour chase that saw the fleeing driver steer a stolen pickup truck into oncoming traffic on the Fraser Highway in Langley.
Robert Anthony Pickford was given 36 months on Tuesday, April 28, by a Port Coquitlam provincial court judge.
The day before, he pleaded guilty to five criminal counts, including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle — an offence with a potential maximum of five years in jail — as well as flight from police, possession of stolen property and two parole violations.
Pickford has been in jail since his arrest on Feb. 18 following a police pursuit of a stolen red Ford F150 pickup truck through Langley and neighbouring communities that ended on the Golden Ears Bridge.
The chase began around 2 p.m. when Ridge Meadows RCMP officers tried to stop the pickup.
Pickford initially pulled over, then drove off, heading for Coquitlam on the Lougheed Highway.
He continued through Surrey and Langley, followed by police on the ground and in the air.
Eyewitnesses told The Times they saw the Ford speeding toward oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road heading west along the Fraser Highway from Aldergrove.
At least one civilian vehicle was forced to drive up on a sidewalk to avoid a collision.
There were no reports of injuries.
The chase ended around 4 p.m. on the Golden Ears Bridge after Ridge Meadows RCMP closed the crossing and police were able to box the pickup in.
By then, three of the tires on the truck had been blown out by spike belts deployed by police.
The Ford came to a stop facing backwards, surrounded by Emergency Response Team vehicles.
An ambulance was called in to take the driver to hospital.
Northbound traffic across the bridge was blocked off for about an hour, causing heavy congestion and substantial delays for commuters.
At the time, Pickford was free on bail awaiting trial on 10 charges, most involving theft-related incidents in Port Coquitlam.
Pickford pleaded guilty to five of those charges following his arrest on the bridge.
Court records show Pickford has several prior convictions for vehicle theft and dangerous driving, including a 2005 case where he received a two-and-a-half year jail sentence for dangerous driving, stealing a vehicle and operating a vehicle “in order to evade a peace officer.”
At the time, Provincial Court Judge Shehni Dossa described how Pickford “went through a lot of red lights onto oncoming traffic” during an early morning police pursuit that ended when Pickford hit a light standard.
“(Y)ou are fortunate there was so little traffic on the road and that nobody was hurt,” Dossa told Pickford.
“You have a long record for someone so young,” Judge Dossa added.
At the time, Pickford was on parole from a 2003 conviction for dangerous driving, possession of a stolen auto and drug possession.