A 32-year-old man accused of leading police on a two-hour chase through Langley and neighbouring municipalities on Feb. 18 was free on bail at the time, court records show.
Robert Anthony Pickford was awaiting trial on several theft-related charges on the day a stolen red Ford F150 pickup truck was finally stopped on the Golden Ears Bridge.
He had been granted bail on 10 charges, all involving incidents in Port Coquitlam.
The charges included two counts of break and enter, three counts of possession of property obtained by crime, two counts of theft, one count of possessing break-in tools, one of driving with a suspended drivers’ licence and one of criminal mischief.
Pickford now faces nine new criminal charges over the police chase, including theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, flight from police, failure to stop at an accident, resisting arrest, possession of stolen property over $5,000 and three counts of violating bail conditions.
He is currently in custody.
On March 18, Pickford is scheduled to appear before a Port Coquitlam Provincial Court judge to hear a Crown prosector’s application to have his bail revoked.
The Feb. 18 chase started around 2 p.m. when Ridge Meadows RCMP officers tried to stop a pickup.
The driver initially pulled over, then sped away towards Coquitlam on Lougheed Highway.
He continued through Surrey and Langley, followed by police on the ground and in the air.
Eyewitnesses told The Times they saw the Ford speeding toward oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road heading west along the Fraser Highway from Aldergrove.
Several police vehicles were in pursuit.
At least one civilian vehicle was forced to drive up on a sidewalk to avoid a collision.
There were no reports of injuries.
The chase ended around 4 p.m. on the Golden Ears Bridge after Ridge Meadows RCMP closed the bridge, and police were able to box the pickup in.
By then, three of the tires on the truck had been blown out by spike belts deployed by police.
The Ford came to a stop facing backwards, surrounded by Emergency Response Team vehicles.
An ambulance was called in to take the driver to hospital.
Northbound traffic across the bridge was blocked off for about an hour, causing heavy congestion and substantial delays.
Court records show Pickford has several prior convictions for vehicle theft and dangerous driving, including a 2005 case where he received a two-and-a-half year jail sentence for dangerous driving, stealing a vehicle and operating a vehicle “in order to evade a peace officer.”
At the time, Provincial Court Judge Shehni Dossa described how Pickford “went through a lot of red lights onto oncoming traffic” during an early morning police pursuit that ended when Pickford hit a light standard.
“(Y)ou are fortunate there was so little traffic on the road and that nobody was hurt,” Dossa told Pickford.
“You have a long record for someone so young,” Judge Dossa added.
At the time, Pickford was on parole from a 2003 conviction for dangerous driving, possession of a stolen auto and drug possession.