Former NHLer spared custody


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This article was published 27/01/2020 (1224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A former NHL player turned grain farmer who drove drunk on two separate occasions won’t spend time in custody, due to “significant triable issues” with evidence collected by Ste Anne Police.

Patrick James Falloon was sentenced Thursday in Winnipeg provincial court to fines totalling $3,500. A two-year driving prohibition was also imposed. Defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx noted Manitoba Public Insurance will likely suspend Falloon’s driver’s licence for five years.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and this is as light a settlement on these two (charges) as I’ve ever seen. Don’t expect to be treated like this in the future,” Judge Herbert Allen said.

Falloon was picked second overall in the 1991 NHL draft. The Foxwarren, Man. native suited up for the San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins in a career spanning nine seasons.

After retiring from the NHL, the right winger played professionally in Switzerland then returned to his hometown to join the Foxwarren Falcons.

In 2003, Falloon hoisted the Allan Cup with the Ile des Chenes North Stars.

The 47-year-old now farms in the Linden area.

An ongoing battle with alcoholism led to the two impaired driving incidents that landed Falloon in court, defence lawyer Sheldon Pinx said.

Falloon pleaded guilty to both charges.

“I am remorseful…I should not have got behind the wheel under the influence,” he said.

Normally, a second conviction for impaired driving results in a mandatory minimum 30-day jail sentence.

But Crown prosecutor Adam Gingera agreed to treat both convictions as first offences. Breathalyzer readings from the second incident, taken by Ste Anne Police, were excluded as evidence.

“The readings are subject to significant triable issues,” Gingera explained.

“I haven’t gone into the details between what unfolded between the police and Mr. Falloon as that investigation continued, but suffice to say that it certainly left arguments open to the defence to have that evidence admitted.”

Pinx leveraged the evidentiary exclusion into a joint recommendation that kept custody off the table, barring any further drunk driving convictions.

“If he has any more slip-ups…he’s going to be looking at subsequent offence proceedings which is going to lead to a minimum four-month jail sentence,” Gingera said.

St Pierre RCMP went looking for Falloon around 4 p.m. Sept. 28, 2016, after a caller reported seeing him leave a residence intoxicated.

An hour later, police caught up with him as he pulled his GMC Sierra into the driveway of his rural property near Linden.

Visibly intoxicated, Falloon became confused, including telling the officer his truck, which was parked behind him, was being driven away by a thief.

A bottle of liqueur and a travel mug containing red wine were discovered in the truck.

Falloon’s blood-alcohol level was found to be .19, more than double the legal limit.

Court heard the incident prompted Falloon to voluntarily complete a 30-day treatment program. He stayed sober for several months afterward, Pinx said.

Nearly two years later, during the afternoon of Aug. 27, 2018, Fallon was arrested outside the Thirsty Cactus bar in Ste Anne.

A woman had dialed Ste Anne Police after Falloon rear-ended her vehicle.

Falloon admitted he had been drinking but denied he hit the vehicle.

Judge Allen told Falloon he was lucky no one was hurt in either incident. On average, four Canadians are killed and 175 injured every day in impairment-related crashes, Allen said. He added the first arrest should have been a wakeup call.

“If that wasn’t your awareness moment, today should be.”

Falloon will still be allowed to operate farm implements on private land.

Section 320.24 of the Criminal Code states a driving prohibition “applies only to its operation on a street, road or highway or in any other public place.”

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