business pages

NNSL Photo/Graphic


Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page


For a follow-up on a successful appeal of the conviction, please see: Lawyer wins dangerous driving appeal

Lawyer banned from driving

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 2, 2011

A 54-year-old Yellowknife lawyer was convicted and sentenced in territorial court on Aug. 30 for a road rage incident - consisting of prolonged horn honking, tailgating and bumping a man twice with his vehicle - in the city last March.

"It's fortunate the consequences weren't worse," said Crown prosecutor Marc Lecorre, who asked Judge Bernadette Schmaltz to sentence Garth Wallbridge to one-year of probation during which time he is to attend anger management counselling, a one-year driving ban and a $1,000 fine for dangerous driving.

Schmaltz agreed and granted all of Lecorre's recommendations, adding a $150 victim of crime surcharge.

"I find (Wallbridge's) testimony at best exaggerated," the judge said.

Before delivering the sentence, Schmaltz recounted the evidence given at Wallbridge's trial the day before. On March 4, 2011, Wallbridge was driving down Franklin Avenue heading towards his Kam Lake Road home when he got stuck behind a silver Dodge SX parked illegally in front of the Royal Bank.

Wallbridge, driving a dark grey Dodge Durango, could see two occupants inside the vehicle. For about five minutes, he honked the horn, pausing only to phone municipal enforcement to remove the smaller car, said Schmaltz.

Before bylaw officers could arrive, a woman exited the bank, got in the passenger side of the car and it drove away. Wallbridge tailgated the silver car down Franklin Avenue and on to 57 Street.

During the day-long trial on Aug. 29, Wallbridge agreed with Lecorre's suggestion that he could have avoided the whole confrontation.

"I absolutely could have and should have gone home," he admitted. "It was a stupid thing to do."

Realizing he was being followed, the driver of the car pulled over on 57 Street near his home and got out of the vehicle with a male passenger to confront Wallbridge, who also pulled over.

The 29-year-old driver of the silver car testified he became frustrated when he tried to talk to Wallbridge seated in the Durango but Wallbridge was talking on his cellphone to a bylaw officer. The younger driver snatched the phone from him and hung it up. He said he gave the phone back immediately, but Wallbridge disagreed and said the younger man struck him in the face when he snatched the phone, kept it and started to walk away.

That's when Wallbridge used his vehicle to bump into the 29-year-old twice.

"This is too crazy, this guy's not actually going to run me over!" the younger man said.

Wallbridge then pulled up alongside the silver car, blocking the driver from getting in. The Durango was scratched because it was so close it struck the silver car's mirror. Then Wallbridge activated his car alarm for several minutes. When the driver of the silver car complained, Wallbridge responded by saying "why, is it making you uncomfortable?" Both drivers phoned the RCMP, who arrived and arrested Wallbridge.

Even though Wallbridge was travelling at a slow speed and the younger driver wasn't injured by the bumps, Schmaltz still ruled the situation was "extremely dangerous" and merited a conviction.

Before being sentenced, Wallbridge asked Lecorre to deliver an apology to the driver, who wasn't in court. Wallbridge added that he was ashamed for what he had done.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.