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Northern Alberta man nets $10,500 in fines for two driving without insurance convictions

Shaeden O'Reilly chastised by Westlock judge for 'making it up as you go' with bizarre arguments during driving with insurance trials
WES provincial court

WESTLOCK — Bizarre legal arguments and generally combative behaviour proved not to be a winning strategy for a defendant at the Westlock Court of Justice on Feb. 7 who was found guilty of driving without insurance in two separate (though brief) trials and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines.

Following the first trial, which lasted about 20 minutes, Shaeden Wayne Thomas O'Reilly received a $3,000 fine and was given until Aug. 7, 2024 to pay that fine or spend 45 days in jail.

Following the second trial, which lasted under 15 minutes, O'Reilly was given a much more severe fine of $7,500 and given until Feb. 5, 2025 to pay the fine, or spend 60 days in jail.

Crown prosecutor Shelia Ries argued that an elevated fine was necessary under Section 54 (4) of the Traffic Safety Act, which confirms that a subsequent violation of either Section 52 (1) or Section 167 (1) within five years nets a minimum $5,000 fine.

While O'Reilly did not have a prior conviction for driving with no insurance, Ries pointed out that on July 1, 2021, he failed to produce an insurance record when asked by police.

“There is also a significant driving record here, which I think demonstrates a blatant disregard for the rules of the road," she said. "Based on that, the Crown is seeking an elevated $7,500 fine."

Before, during and after the two trials, O'Reilly made a number of arguments to the judge, first stating that he did not consent to the proceedings or to be represented using the name on his birth certificate, ie. Shaeden Wayne Thomas O'Reilly.

He also argued that he had not harmed anyone with his actions, which meant he couldn't be found guilty under "common law" for any offence.

Finally, he attempted to argue that he was the beneficiary of a billion-dollar trust he entered into as a newborn, which Justice Jeffrey Champion noted was impossible as you must be 18 years old to enter into a trust.

"If you want to talk about legal principles, I will talk legal principles. That’s my job, OK?" Champion said. "You just said to me that you’re the beneficiary of a trust, right? Who are the parties of the trust?” 

After initially stating that a "dead entity" was the other party, O'Reilly then tried to name the judge as the other party, which was quickly shot down.

"You're making it up as you go," the exasperated  Champion told O'Reilly.

During the first trial, court heard from a civilian witness that on Dec. 12, 2022, she had been driving south along Highway 44 just north of the Flatbush turnoff when she observed a northbound vehicle hit a deer, swerve across the highway and roll into the ditch.

She testified that O'Reilly was the driver, and she allowed him to stay in her vehicle while she called the Westlock RCMP about the rollover. She left shortly after providing information to the officer who responded.

When given the opportunity to question that witness, the justice asked O'Reilly to stand, to which he responded, "I could, but I won't." This led to the judge declaring, "Then you can't ask questions."

The second witness, the RCMP officer who responded, testified that upon arriving at the scene, she asked O'Reilly for his vehicle registration and insurance, but he could not provide either. She also testified that O'Reilly had not contacted her since the accident with insurance information.

Again, O'Reilly refused to stand when given the opportunity to ask questions and was not allowed to do so.

After being found guilty of the first driving with no insurance charge, O'Reilly complained, "You think I can get a ****ing Class 1 job operating a ****ing tractor when I got so many infractions on my licence?" This netted a warning about his language from the judge.

When asked if he needed time to pay, O'Reilly asked if he could get fifty years, to which the judge replied, "A lot of people wish they could, but no."

During the second trial, the court heard from another RCMP officer that on May 24, 2023, she had been conducting traffic enforcement in the construction zone south of Westlock along Highway 44.

She testified that her sergeant pointed out a vehicle that was coming northbound and had an expired marker. She initiated a traffic stop.

The driver, O'Reilly, provided her an insurance document that was dated January 2021. He told the officer that he had just fixed his pick-up truck and got it back on the road, and was unable to get his insurance updated; nevertheless, he never contacted her after the traffic stop with updated insurance information.

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