A 45-year-old man who conspired with a friend at KRCC to keep an assault victim from testifying in court escaped a jail sentence Monday.
B.C. Supreme Court justice Ian Meiklem agreed with a joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers, who suggested a conditional sentence served in the community.
Alexander Waites pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
Crown lawyer Don Mann said Waites and a co-accused, Randy Tournour, worked with a friend who was in jail facing charges related to a violent attack against his common-law wife. They conspired with him to encourage her not to testify.
“She was in a vulnerable position,” Mann said.
RCMP obtained telephone recordings between Waites and his longtime friend, Gerald Emerson Clarke, who was in custody at KRCC on charges he attacked his common-law wife.
Clarke eventually pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats and obstruction of justice — the latter conviction for conspiring with Waites.
Mann outlined a series of calls between the two men as well as text messages between Waites and the woman. Through those messages, police learned that Clarke asked his friend “’to talk some sense into her,’” Mann said.
Clarke was on a court-imposed no-contact ban with her.
RCMP eventually learned that Waites promised to put money into the woman’s account and pay for a trip to Ontario if she’d tell the Crown she was drunk at the time of the assault and would not co-operate with testimony.
But defence lawyer Sheldon Tate, who argued for a nine- to 12-month conditional sentence, noted Waites never threatened the woman and the plan was not a sophisticated one. He also said Waites didn’t fully understand the nature of the allegations against his friend.
Waites is a construction worker who has also studied literature in university. He has a criminal record dating to his teen years. Tate said he also recently took custody of his two children after a custody dispute with his former wife, a crack cocaine addict who has since disappeared.
Waites has made arrangements to move to Ontario to be near family.
Justice Meiklem said obstruction of justice is a serious charge but he noted Waites’s guilty plea, remorse and the circumstances as he imposed the non-custodial sentence. For the first four months of the 12-month sentence, Waites will be under house arrest, except to work and to care for his children.