A woman who used a stolen 2023 GMC Silverado truck from Westlock to ram a Parkland RCMP vehicle while fleeing from police was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary last week.
At Westlock Court of Justice on Nov. 29, Trina Mae Paul pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of stolen property, flight from a peace officer, dangerous operation of a vehicle, and two counts of failure to comply with release conditions. Over a dozen criminal and Traffic Safety Act charges were withdrawn.
Justice Gordon Putnam sentenced Paul to a total of 371 days in a federal penitentiary, which she had specifically requested in order to take advantage of the expanded programming that would be available to her.
The breakdown of her sentence was as follows: 191 days on the first possession charge, 180 days to be served consecutively on the flight from police, 210 days consecutive on the dangerous driving, 90 days concurrent on the first breach of release conditions charge, 120 days consecutive on the second possession charge and 30 days consecutive on the second breach charge.
A five-year driving prohibition was also imposed and Paul was ordered to pay $6,984.57 in restitution to the owner of a stolen Ford F-250 that related to the second possession charge.
After sentencing, Justice Putnam said, “The court is hopeful that the time that you spend in federal penitentiary will get you the help that you need.”
Crown prosecutor Brett Grierson said that on Oct. 2, 2023, Parkland RCMP were informed that a 2023 GMC Silverado truck had been stolen from the GMC dealership in Westlock.
Using OnStar’s tracking service, police determined the location of the stolen truck and attended the scene. Once there, Grierson said RCMP observed another male exit the stolen truck and go into another vehicle.
As he was being arrested, Paul began to drive the stolen truck away from police, Grierson said.
As the truck drove eastbound on “highway speeds,” it rammed into the front left corner of a police vehicle as it was sitting stationary at an intersection, he said, noting that the constable operating the vehicle was getting ready to deploy a spike belt.
“The collision rendered the police vehicle inoperable,” Grierson said.
Eventually, OnStar disabled the stolen truck, which came to a stop in a field. Paul, along with two other occupants, were arrested.
Grierson said Paul had knowingly fled from police in a vehicle she knew to be stolen and had intentionally struck a police vehicle. She was also on an active release order at the time to not be present in a motor vehicle without the registered owner present.
While those facts accounted for four of the charges Paul pleaded guilty to, the second possession charge related to an incident on Oct. 3, 2021.
At approximately 5:11 p.m., a man reported to Barrhead RCMP that both his vehicle, a black 2019 Ford F-250, and a co-worker's vehicle had been stolen from a work site south of Barrhead.
Grierson said the victim reported seeing a white Ford Superduty pull into their worksite and turn around shortly before both vehicles were stolen.
The victim, his boss and another co-worker tracked the stolen vehicle's GPS and spotted the stolen Ford F-250 on the highway near Township Road 580 in the County of Barrhead. They also observed that Paul was driving the stolen truck.
The group followed the truck to a dead-end trail. The victim, along with his co-worker and boss, walked up to the Ford F-250 and observed Paul exit the driver’s seat before getting into the back seat of yet another vehicle.
Barrhead RCMP eventually attended the scene and arrested Paul, Grierson said. The restitution order of $6,984.57 related to damage done to the victim’s Ford F-250.
The second breach charge that Paul pleaded guilty to arose on Aug. 18, 2023, when a Barrhead RCMP officer observed a female walking in the rain along 53rd Avenue.
Grierson said the officer went to speak to the woman, but she disappeared. She was found shortly afterwards in an alley behind 54th Avenue, Grierson said.
The officer recognized the woman as Paul. When he asked her why she was trying to avoid police, Paul admitted she had outstanding warrants for her arrest.
Grierson noted that at the time, Paul was under the influence drugs, which was apparent to the arresting officer. She was also under conditions at the time to carry either a copy of a release order or a government-issued ID, but she had neither.
Grierson noted that Paul had a “litany of property crimes” on her record, including a 2019 conviction for possession of stolen property that resulted in a 90-day sentence.
He noted that the joint submission for 24 months in jail would be a step-up for Paul in terms of the sentences she has received in the past, but the principles of denunciation and deterrence were paramount in sentencing.
Defence lawyer Richard Forbes noted that despite having already serving some time in custody, Paul did not want any of that time credited to her as she was facing charges in other jurisdictions.
Forbes said that Paul is of First Nations status and is a member of the Cold Lake First Nation.
He said a Gladue pre-sentencing report had previously been completed on her behalf and those Gladue factors were still very relevant to her situation, adding that Paul had very early experiences of trauma and abuse.
“Ms. Paul had very few opportunities from a very early age,” Forbes said.
Noting she has also struggled with substance abuse, Forbes indicated that Paul was enjoying her sobriety in custody, and the purpose of serving a two-year sentence in a federal penitentiary was to get her the help she needs.