A Ladysmith man who escaped custody while at a Victoria General Hospital in 2015 will be sentenced next week on 20 charges stemming from drug possession, multiple break-ins and a dangerous 14-kilometre police chase which ended with him treading water in the Nanaimo River, surrounded.
Tyler Desmond Fong, 33, has plead guilty to the string of residential and commercial thefts that took place in Ladysmith, Chemainus and Duncan two years ago, during which time he was able to evade arrest twice.
The Crown is seeking a 10 year sentence for what prosecutor Carlie Cromlish called “senseless and persistent criminality.”
“The amount of evidence against Mr. Fong can be considered overwhelming,” she said, describing Fong’s record which includes 67 convictions in the past 17 years as “prolific, incorrigible and chronic.”
“It’s pure luck and happenstance he hasn’t killed anyone – the protection of the public is paramount,” she added.
A clean cut Fong, 33, appeared in court wearing a blue collared shirt and made a subtle wave upon seeing his parents seated in the front row on Thursday morning.
Defence attorney Mark J. Swartz told the court a seven year sentence is warranted and said his client suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was self-medicating using methamphetamine at the time of the offences.
“He was breaking and entering for items he could then sell to feed his addiction,” Swartz said, recommending that his client would benefit from a residential treatment facility after serving out his sentence.
Fong, who is the father of a 10-year-old child, wrote a letter expressing his remorse that was submitted to Judge Ronald Lamperson.
Briefly addressing the court at the end of Thursday’s session, an emotional Fong said he is now on medication for ADHD as well as an anti-depressant.
“I have an addiction and up until a while ago I hadn’t admitted it and I hadn’t tried and I didn’t really care to tell you the truth,” he said. “I’m willing to do anything to try and change so that when I do get out that I am a good person in society and that I can make up for my wrongs for doing something good.”
According to an agreed submission of facts, in February 2015 Fong stole four android tablets from a computer repair store in Chemainus and less than a month later made off with over $5,000 in jewelry from another business in town.
Five days later a residential break-in took place in Duncan where Fong pried open french doors and took jewelry, an acoustic guitar, laptop and passport. A search warrant executed at a Ladysmith address shortly thereafter located all the items stolen from the home but no arrests were made.
In May 2015, a daytime break-in took place at a Ladysmith address and three flatscreen TVs and gold and diamond jewelry were stolen and eventually led to Ladysmith RCMP tracking down Fong’s Audi with custom rims based on a description provided by the homeowners.
Fong fled the Ladysmith subdivision by driving up onto a lawn as police attempted to block the road. A day later he was able to evade arrest again in Duncan when police called off a chase due to public safety.
Nanaimo RCMP eventually tracked Fong down at University Village Mall a day later but not before he attempted to escape one last time by driving his Audi into the police cruisers blocking his path and leading officers on a 14 kilometre chase.
A spike strip laid down by the RCMP forced Fong to abandon his car near the Duke Point overpass and he then proceeded unsuccessfully to carjack four vehicles along the highway. Fong was finally apprehended after police surrounded him in the nearby Nanaimo River.
He then escaped from custody in October 2015 using a handcuff key while at Victoria General Hospital being treated for an injury suffered in jail. Fong was on the lam for 17 days and police still aren’t sure how he acquired the instrument.
His troubles continued while at Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre where guards raided his cell last July and discovered marijuana, methamphetamine and a dab of heroine with a street value of over $750.
“He is someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants even if it means committing criminal acts or putting the sobriety of others at risk,” Cromlish said.
The sentencing hearing resumes next Thursday in Nanaimo.