Burnaby Mountie's inconsistent testimony fails to make charges stick

Suspect convicted of possession of stolen property but acquitted of dangerous driving and failing to stop for a police officer.

A man accused of dangerous driving while evading police on a stolen motorcycle has been has been acquitted of dangerous driving and failing to stop for a police officer – but a possession-of-stolen-property charge has stuck.

Jason Schendel was arrested on May 7, after being briefly pursued by an RCMP cruiser in the Edmonds area.

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At about 7 a.m., Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Alan Windover testified he had seen Schendel standing beside a later model red and white Triumph motorcycle on 18th Avenue and had run the licence plate, which turned out not to belong to the bike.

He went around the block, intending to talk to Schendel, but by the time he got back to the spot, Schendel was riding down 18th toward Canada Way.

Windover followed him but said Schendel failed to pull over even after the Mountie turned on his lights and sirens.

After riding away from the officer for about .7 kilometres on a couple of busy Edmonds streets, Schendel stopped only after the Mountie blocked the exit of a gas station Schendel had tried to cut through, according to Windover.

“Corporal Windover described the actions of the motorcycle as creating chaos,” states a Dec. 14 ruling on the case.

Windover said Schendel finally fell over with the bike after swerving around the police car, riding over a sidewalk and trying to maneuver past a building.

Schendel told a different story.

He testified that he had pulled over as soon as it was safe to do so after seeing lights and sirens in his rear-view mirror.

He said the reason the bike ended up on the ground was because he had failed to put it into neutral and it had lurched forward and fallen onto the ground when he released the clutch.

Schendel also said he had had no idea the motorcycle was stolen despite the fact the ignition had been damaged, the vehicle identification number had been removed and he had been found in possession of an open multi-tool that could be used to start it.

He said he’d been fixing the bike for a friend.

B.C. Provincial Court Judge Reginald Harris didn’t buy any of it.

He said it made no sense that Schendel – an experienced motorcyclist and motorcycle repair person – would “continue to hold the clutch in despite being stopped and being off of the motorcycle” or fail to notice the damaged ignition.

He also noted Schendel’s 28-year criminal record, which includes 25 convictions for thefts, possession of stolen property, break and enters, convictions for false pretences, fraud and public mischief.  

But Harris questioned Windover’s testimony as well, saying it had been inconsistent.

“Specifically, he made the barest of notes, he recorded the wrong licence plate number, and he was unable to state if Mr. Schendel was wearing goggles and yet he testified that Mr. Schendel looked back at him,” Harris said.

In the end, Harris ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Schendel had failed to stop as soon as reasonable or that he had operated the motorcycle in a dangerous manner. 

The judge was satisfied, however, that there was enough evidence to conclude Schendel had “willfully blinded himself to the obvious facts indicating that the motorcycle was stolen.”

“I therefore find him guilty of possessing stolen property,” Harris ruled.

 

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