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Doing doughnuts in Corner Brook takes bite out of man’s freedom

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Father gets house arrest for dangerous driving with two young children in backseat

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

A man has been sentenced to house arrest for crimes that began with him doing donuts in his vehicle in a snow-covered Wal-Mart parking lot with his two young children aboard.

Douglas Simon Hoffman, 36, was arrested last March 9 after police in Corner Brook received a report of a vehicle doing spins in the department store parking lot. Officers arrived to find Hoffman behind the wheel of his vehicle with his two children, ages two and three, in the back seat.

Police parked their cars so one was in front of Hoffman’s and one was behind it, then approached him and advised him of the complaint they had received, asking for his driver’s licence. 

While officers were reviewing the information Hoffman had given to them, Hoffman began moving his vehicle back and forth between the police cars, striking one of them and spraying them with slush.

When the officers asked Hoffman to get out of his vehicle he refused and a struggle ensued, resulting in Hoffman’s clothes being ripped, the officers removing him and handcuffing him, and forcefully placing him in the backseat of one of their cars. While there, Hoffman kicked the window a number of times, damaging the door of the police car.

“The arrest and struggle caused the children to become very upset,” Judge Wayne Gorman wrote in his decision. “A witness to the arrest and detention of Mr. Hoffman referred to the actions of the police as being nauseating.”

Hoffman pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, mischief and two counts of resisting arrest. He conceded he did resist arrest, but argued the police had acted outside the execution of their duties. 

After a trial, Gorman convicted Hoffman on all counts, and determined police had acted appropriately.

Hoffman pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching a court order by failing to report to police one day in March after he was charged and released with conditions.

Prosecutor Kate Ashton argued for a jail term of four to six months, a year of probation and a year-long driving ban for Hoffman, referring to the public danger Hoffman had caused with his vehicle and the need to deter other like-minded people.

Hoffman’s lawyer, Shelley Senior, argued for a lengthy period of probation alone, saying he would lose his job if he were to go to jail, and he has financial obligations to his family. Senior didn’t object to the idea of house arrest, but pointed out possible difficulties with it based on her client’s job.

Gorman said he was satisfied that a period of four months of house arrest would meet the principles of sentencing in Hoffman’s case, ordering him to stay inside a family residence in

Ontario unless he was using a specific vehicle for work purposes or attending medical treatment or had otherwise obtained permission from the court. 

Hoffman is also bound by a 12-month probation order.

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