Wheelman in 2012 Okanagan crime spree still awaiting sentence

Michael Ellis, 43, was in front of a judge Monday in what could be the last week of a hearing...

A well known Okanagan criminal who made headlines four years ago by leading Mounties on a high-speed chase may finally learn his prison sentence.

Michael Ellis, 43, was in front of a judge Monday in what could be the last week of a hearing dedicated to sussing out  whether he should be labelled a Dangerous or Long Term Offender. Once decided, it will influence his sentence for a number of convictions related to a 2012 crime spree that he was sentenced for last year.

The hearing started in June, and went on a lengthy hiatus until this week when it returned to the court roster.

“One consistent feature of Dangerous Offender hearings, which is true of every step of development, is there is a requirement for extensive body of information for the court,” said Ellis’s defence counsel, John Gustafson. “I suppose in terms of number of pages it’s fairly extensive, but it’s fairly thin in terms of substance. In fact it was described by the court appointed expert… as scant.”

Gustafson went on to say there has already been a surprising absence of evidence and that he believes it will prove “fatal to establishing a pattern of behaviour ” needed for the label.

At Ellis’s trial   last year, he was described as the drugged-up wheelman of an operation that included multiple car jackings, shots fired at police and civilians alike and an attempt to run a Vernon cop off the road.

For his role, Ellis was found guilty of three counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, four counts of firing a prohibited firearm, dangerous driving and six weapons offences. He dodged an attempted murder conviction for his efforts to run the police officer off the road.

“Extreme recklessness endangering the life of Cpl. (Richard) Gingras does not equate to an intent to kill,” said Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson, during sentencing.

“His intent was to escape police at all costs, even if those efforts resulted in the death of Cpl. Gingras.”

Despite being found not guilty of the most violent charge, Crown counsel Murray Kaay still applied for a Dangerous Offender hearing and that has taken over a year to come to fruition.

Ellis’s co-accused Shawn Wysynski  is currently serving a nine-year sentence for his participation in the shootout with police.

Ashley Collins is serving an 18-month suspended sentence, along with 18 months of probation, after she pleaded guilty to knowingly being in a vehicle where there were illegal firearms.