Man who admitted to semi hijacking near Clearwater gets more than five years prison

By Ashley Legassic
March 15, 2019 - 12:59pm

KAMLOOPS — A man who admitted to a series of crimes over several months in 2017 spanning from Alberta to Kamloops has been sentenced to more than five years in jail.

David Chappell apologized to his victims and the court before being sentenced to five years and six months for his crimes, which included hijacking a semi truck near Avola, kidnapping its driver in the process.

Court heard during B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sharon Matthews's decision that Chappell was completely entrenched in a crystal meth addiction when he committed more than a dozen crimes in Alberta and B.C. in 2017.

They included the criminal harassment of his pregnant ex-partner, and stealing items to pay for drugs before heading to B.C. Between Clearwater and Kamloops, Chappell stole mail, committed two robberies using an imitation firearm, and evaded police up until a K-9 team took him down.

Chappell was seen slumped behind the wheel of a running vehicle at the Wire Cache rest stop on Highway 5, south of Avola on Nov. 6, 2017.

An officer placed Chappell into the back of a cruiser, but he escaped and fled in the stolen minivan along Highway 5 with the officer in pursuit. Chappell had borrowed the van from a friend, court heard, and didn't know it had been stolen.

After some time, Chappell pulled off near Blue River and approached a semi truck, smashing out one of the windows. He tried to force the driver out and climbed into the driver's seat, but was unable to start the vehicle.

He then moved on to another semi truck and threatened him with an imitation firearm. He forced the driver, Robert Price, to take him into the cab and drive him. Although Chappell was trying to get back to Alberta to see his newborn daughter and purchase more drugs, he told the southbound driver that Abbotsford would do.

Unmarked police vehicles followed the semi truck with Chappell and Price in it, and police were able to communicate with Price who pretended to be speaking to his dispatcher in order to not alert Chappell.

They ended up stopping the vehicle west of Kamloops on Highway 1, and once Price got out officers deployed three rounds of tear gas into the tractor to try and force Chappell out. Instead, Chappell got into the driver's seat and took off, but shortly after he rolled the vehicle down an embankment.

That still didn't stop him. Court heard Chappell then got out of the vehicle and walked away, despite being told by officers to get on the ground. A police dog was then able to take him down, and Chappell later said the first thing he remembered of that day was being bit by the canine.

Chappell was 34 years old at the time of the offences, and had been in the throes of an intense crystal meth addiction. Justice Matthews said although his moral culpability was low due to his addiction, there must still be denunciation and deterrence for Chappell's crimes.

"I want to say sorry to... my victims, obviously the courts," Chappell said in court. "It was a really stupid mistake. I hope the court sees this is completely out of character."

Crown had asked for a sentence of seven years and seven months, while defence sought a sentence of two years less one day of new jail time. Chappell's guilty pleas and rehabilitative work he's completed while he's been in custody led to a sentence of roughly three and a half years of new jail time.

He is also prohibited from owning a firearm for 10 years, and prohibited from driving for three years.

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