A brain-injured man who punched a retired Mountie during an incident of road rage has been spared a jail term.
Instead, a provincial court judge in Penticton on Monday handed Richard Soren Keldsen, 57, a suspended sentence of 12 months probation, a $500 fine and a one-year driving prohibition after pleading guilty to single counts of assault and driving with a suspended licence.
Court heard Keldsen was behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer on May 3, 2014, driving near Keremeos when he passed Walter Makepeace going up a hill on a double yellow line.
A little further up the road, both vehicles stopped at a red flashing light and Keldsen got out of his SUV and approached Makepeace’s vehicle.
Makepeace rolled down his window, “because he thought if Mr. Keldsen just vented it would de-escalate the situation,” said Crown counsel Nashina Devji.
She said Keldsen then punched Makepeace once on the left side of his face, then got back in his vehicle and drove off, and later admitted the assault to police, who were assisted with statements from two other witnesses.
Defence counsel James Pennington said the incident began when Makepeace cut off his client at an intersection.
“Essentially, he pulled onto the highway right in front of Mr. Keldsen,” said Pennington.
The lawyer noted his client suffered a brain injury when he fell down some stairs while renovating a home about three years ago, and has had difficulty obtaining and completing work since.
On the day in question, Pennington said, a job came up for Keldsen and his wife was unavailable to drive him, so he took her truck without permission.
Following an impassioned plea for help from Keldsen’s wife in court, Judge Gale Sinclair included in Keldsen’s probation order a condition that he get counselling and any other treatment recommended by his supervisor, and have no contact with Makepeace.