Tickets were nixed, but bizarre odyssey was pricey

Barry Worden heard a knock on his door one day in October 2017. It was a Mountie hand-delivering a pair of traffic tickets for violations alleged to have occurred more than two months earlier in a city nearly 600 kilometres away.

When Worden, who lives in Heffley Creek, asked what the tickets were for and how he was being ticketed without having been pulled over, he said the officer told him he was “just the delivery boy” and didn’t have further information.

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Worden, 76, said he doesn’t remember doing what the violations describe: running a red light and speeding through a construction zone in Vanderhoof, where he said he was on the day the violations are alleged to have occurred.

Worden said the officer told him there were no Mounties involved in the tickets. Worden was mystified how that could be the case and wondered why the tickets came so long after the day in question.

To find out, Worden started by trying to dispute the tickets, but when he went to the courthouse to do so, he was told he couldn’t because the violation date was more than 30 days in the past.

When Worden complained that he had just received the tickets, 65 days after the violation date, the clerk told him he would first need to get the notice that was given to him dated by the Barriere RCMP, the detachment that delivered the tickets.

After doing that, Worden’s dispute was underway and later received by the Prince George courthouse to be processed.

Worden then received a call in November from someone at the courthouse asking what his dispute was about.

“I told her ‘Well, you tell me. I have no idea,’” Worden said.

There was further confusion when Worden said he was initially told there was no record of the tickets in their system, but the dispute filing went ahead.

With the dispute filed and a court date set for Aug. 9, nearly a full year after the violations are alleged to have occurred, Worden had a decision to make.

Should he simply pay the fines or spend the equivalent amount on fuel, accommodation and food to make the trip to Vanderhoof and present his argument in court — with the added risk of also having to pay the fines if he lost?

He decided to make his case in court and, after a seven-hour drive on Aug. 9, arrived at the Vanderhoof courthouse for yet another twist in the case against him.

“They put a stay on that. ‘You don’t have to be here,’” Worden said he was told.

“I was some choked. It was a $500 trip between gas, rooms and meals.”

It turns out the Vanderhoof constable involved with the tickets was transferred more than a month before Worden’s court date and the proceedings were stayed on July 30, 10 days before his court date.

Worden was told he didn’t have to see the judge, but insisted on doing so anyway.

“Oh yes I do,” Worden said he told the clerk.

Worden said the judge sympathized and said Worden should have received a letter. Worden said he hadn’t.

The judge asked the bailiff to produce a copy of the letter, which Worden said he saw for the first time in court that day.

“They forgot to send it,” he told KTW.

Worden said he has since made a half-dozen phone calls trying to find who was responsible for never sending the letter, but heard nothing helpful in reply.

“Well, somebody’s got to be responsible for this,” he said.

“How can you run a judicial system and nobody knows what’s going on?”

As for what initiated the ticket, a member of the Vanderhoof RCMP said the constable who initiated the ticket took a report from a witness over the phone — something Worden didn’t learn until after his ordeal.

“Am I just going to pay this thing because someone wrote down my licence-plate number?” Worden asked before his court date.

“It’s so slipshod it’s just unbelievable.”

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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