Original article no longer available
Posted By Nasmith, Cecilia
Posted 4 hours ago
Instead of a trial several hours long on two charges of drug trafficking and taking a vehicle without the owner’s permission, the matter of former Cobourg councillor and lawyer David Purvis was over within 20 minutes.
In exchange for his guilty plea to the vehicular charge in the Ontario Court of Justice in Port Hope on May 2, Mr. Purvis had the drug charges withdrawn.
And because it is his first criminal conviction, the 63-year-old accused received a conditional discharge.
Crown attorney Marc Bebee said the charges dated from the early-morning hours of January 12, 2007, when Mr. Purvis was at the wheel of a friend’s truck in Port Hope. The friend objected to Mr. Purvis grinding the gears and backing up with the emergency brake on, and an argument ensued.
They argued while Mr. Purvis was driving, court heard, with his friend at one point grabbing the steering wheel for fear they were going off the road. The friend finally got out of the truck, and Mr. Purvis (still driving) chased him a short distance before driving away
The friend made his way to the pay phone at a gas station and called his grandmother collect. She advised him to call police, but he didn’t want to involve the police. Instead, he asked his grandmother to call Mr. Purvis and tell him he had five minutes to return the truck or he would call the police.
The woman did call Mr. Purvis, and subsequently called police as well.
Mr. Purvis did show up 15 minutes later at the gas station, where his friend had asked a gas-station employee to witness whatever happened. The two of them approached Mr. Purvis to ask for the keys. Mr. Purvis refused, and demanded his friend get into the truck. His friend said he’d call the police if he didn’t get the keys.
Mr. Purvis exited the vehicle, and the employee tried requesting the keys. Mr. Purvis refused and became argumentative, saying he was an officer of the court and was his friend’s lawyer.
Mr. Purvis entered the gas station, followed by his friend. Once inside, Mr. Purvis turned and faced his friend, waving the keys at him with a big grin on his face. His friend begged for the keys one more time, and Mr. Purvis told him, “You know who I am. I’m an officer of the court. You’ll be the one getting arrested.”
He drove away, and police saw him driving down Peter Street. They activated their emergency lights and he pulled over. He exited the vehicle, but dug in his feet. They said he was under arrest, and he got upset, telling the officers he was an officer of the court.
Defence counsel David Besant supplied some background. The owner of the truck had done work for him at his cottage and, on this date, his truck was loaded with belongings that he was moving for Mr. Purvis to his Muskoka cottage.
“Mr. Purvis assisted him by paying for the insurance and buying new tire and minor things like paying for gas,” Mr. Besant added.
The attorney produced a number of character-reference letters for Mr. Purvis, who has been a municipal solicitor, Cobourg councillor and prominent fundraiser for a number of charitable causes before leaving the area about two decades ago. He also produced a doctor’s letter that attested to Mr. Purvis’s depression, for which he has been on medication.
Arguing for an absolute discharge, Mr. Besant begged the judge to consider the difficulty Mr. Purvis would have travelling with a criminal record.
Mr. Bebee pointed out that Mr. Purvis’s plea came on a trial date, when a number of witnesses had gone to some trouble – and in one case, 330 kilometres of distance – to be present.
Justice Robert Graydon, however, was more swayed by the picture of Mr. Purvis created by the letters his lawyer produced, ruling that he is entitled to draw on that bank of good credit. Still, he added, he wanted to see Mr. Purvis put something back into the community and ordered a $400 donation to the local Salvation Army food fund plus a six-month probation order in connection with the conditional discharge.
The probation also requires him to have no contact with the gas-station attendant, another witness in the case or the truck’s owner and his grandmother (except through attorneys because, as Mr. Besant said, there are still some outstanding issues).
In order to make the probation order a non-reporting one, Mr. Besant gave his personal undertaking to ensure the $400 donation is paid, as opposed to making it a probation condition.
If Mr. Purvis completes his probation successfully, Justice Graydon said, the conditional discharge becomes absolute – otherwise, it becomes a conviction.
Mr. Purvis will return to court May 16 for trial on breach-of-recognizance charges that date from January 26, 2007, and April 17, 2007.
Article ID# 1015658