A judge reluctantly handed Justin Inverarity a suspended sentence for a hit-and-run incident and unruly behaviour with police in Summerland last May. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Man narrowly skips jail in Summerland hit-and-run

Judge Meg Shaw said she wouldn’t have considered the submission if not for efforts to curb liquor use

A young man has skipped jail time for a Summerland hit-and-run and an resisting arrest.

Judge Meg Shaw reluctantly imposed a suspended sentence on Justin Inverarity for the May 6 incidents last year. Inverarity sped through an intersection at Rosedale Ave. and Highway 97, hitting the rear driver’s side Jeep, causing the tire flares to break off, along with extensive damage to the door.

Inverarity’s vehicle took off south on Highway 97, and was later found at the IGA on Prairie Valley Road.

“(An officer) was advised by witnesses they observed the vehicle pull up in front of the Dollarama, the driver jumped out of the suspect truck and run over to the Dairy Queen, then exit the Dairy Queen and run into a taxi cab,” Crown lawyer Ann Lerchs said.

The truck was registered to Inverarity, and when a police officer stopped a taxi, the occupant identified himself as Justin.

“(He) advised he didn’t do anything wrong, and that he wasn’t even driving. He began moving around, trying to keep (the officer) from placing handcuffs,” Lerchs said.

Once in the police cruiser, Lerchs said Inverarity continued “yelling and swearing” at the officer, who found Inverarity’s licence had been suspended.

The officer noted the smell of liquor was strong in the backseat and his eyes were bloodshot, and when she asked him when his last drink was, he reportedly “just swore and asked to talk to his lawyer.”

“Mr. Inverarity began yelling and saying ‘I did none of those things. I want my lawyer present. F—- off and get me my lawyer,’” after the officer began reading him his rights.

“Why the f—- would I provide a (breath) sample,” he reportedly said, before the officers were eventually able to close the rear door of the vehicle, but the man began kicking the window and door.

Lerchs said it took four officers to get Inverarity into his cell once arriving at the detachment.

The driver of the vehicle hit by Inverarity said she suffered soft tissue injury to her back, whiplash, concussion and muscle injuries, with those injuries still affecting her today. She said she still suffers from anxiety on the road as a result of the crash.

Since the incident, defence lawyer Norm Yates said Inverarity had made a “Herculean” effort to get his drinking under control, and he will be extending his stay at a new residential recovery program in the North Okanagan through Round Lake Alcohol and Treatment Society.

“I feel sorry for what I’ve done,” Inverarity told the judge Monday afternoon.. “If I could turn back time and take it away, I would.”

The suspended sentence was part of a joint submission between Crown and defence, and includes a two-year period of probation.

For a judge to forgo a joint submission would require the sentence proposed to be exceptionally disjointed from reality.

“Had Mr. Inverarity not taken the clear steps that he has taken to address some of the difficulties that led up to this criminal behaviour on May 6, 2017, I can tell you I would not even be considering what is proposed by counsel today,” Shaw said.

“To be very blunt, sir, I would have sent you to jail.”



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