Two of the three people who led Mounties down Westside Road on high speed shootout in the summer of 2012 were sentenced this week, with vastly different outcomes.
Crown counsel and defense lawyers for Ashley Collins, 20, and Shawn Wysynski, 34, offered Justice Peter Rogers joint sentencing submissions Friday morning, which he accepted. And, as Rogers weighed in on the duo’s respective futures, he offered a few insights into how they found themselves before him and his views on their potential rehabilitation.
First on the agenda was Collins. She earlier pleaded guilty to knowingly being in a vehicle with illegal firearms, and for that was given a suspended sentence of 18 months and 18 months of probation.
It’s light compared to what she could have faced had Crown prosecutors not downgraded her charges so significantly.
Collins and her two companions took part in multiple car jackings over the course of a drug fuelled car chase with police, and for that they all initially faced a slew of attempted murder and weapons charges.
As time went on, however, it became clear Collins played a much lesser role in the crime.
Throughout the chased that started on Boucherie Road and continued to the Swan Lake side of Vernon, on Westside Road, she was seen hopping in and out of vehicles, seemingly at times encouraging the men to back away from the people they were terrorizing.
She was never seen handling guns, nor did she take part in menacing the many people encountered on the windy road.
Ultimately, Collins was depicted as a drug addled teen who chose to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The product of what Rogers characterized as “an uneven and unhappy childhood,” Collins had gotten in the swing of making poor decisions by the time of the shootout, but had yet to rack up a criminal record.
The events of July 31, 2012 may just be the peak of her poor behaviour.
Sometime after she hopped into the back of the third and final vehicle that had been stolen from unwitting motorists that day, Collins was shot.
She lost a kidney, an early pregnancy and, simultaneously, found the drive for a better future.
It was “the worst day of (her) life, and the best day,” she’s told her parole officer.
As she recovered from her injuries, Collins detoxed from the drugs she became addicted to. She’s since held down a steady job and has never gone back to using drugs and booze.
“As a result of her wounds, she lost a kidney,” Justice Rogers said. “I have no doubt when she looks at that scar she will be reminded of the value of leading a productive life.”
Wysynski, on the other hand, has fewer future options, in Rogers estimation.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of armed robbery and one charge of attempted armed robbery, and was sentenced to nine years in prison, less time served, at Friday’s hearing.
Wysynski was seen at least once over the course of the chase menacing someone with a gun, although it’s unclear if he ever shot at anyone. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing gloves, so it’s possible he never left a trace of the activities he partook in that day.
That said, his history doesn’t paint him as the type to stand back from the chaos that ensued.
“He’s made a living by stealing and being involved with drugs, from the age of 15 to July 31, 2012,” said Rogers. “He’s never held a job, never been a productive member of society, and always been supported by theft… he’s a habitual criminal.”
That said, Wysynski has never been in a federal prison before, and his lawyer argued that drug and counselling programs there could go a long way to taking him off that path.
“Wysynski has no attachment to normal society,” said Rogers. “It makes him difficult to deal with. I’m not optimistic that whatever programs available to him while he’s in custody will have a rehabilitative effect… but never say never. Mr. Wysynski may surprise us all.”
Now that Wysynski and Collins have been sentenced, the third party involved in the chase, Michael Ellis, can have his trial resume. He’s facing 22 charges, five of which are attempted murder.