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Crown drops charges against two Alberta farmers arrested in tractor checkstop

CALGARY — The Alberta Crown has withdrawn charges against two young farmers following a run-in with sheriffs at a checkstop where their tractor was towed away.

CALGARY — The Alberta Crown has withdrawn charges against two young farmers following a run-in with sheriffs at a checkstop where their tractor was towed away.

Jeremia Leussink, 19, was taking the tractor from one field to another on July 31 when he was stopped by provincial sheriffs at a highway checkstop near Didsbury, Alta., north of Calgary.

Family members have said that frustrated by a long line of cars, he drove into a ditch to get into the other field, prompting sheriffs to pull him out of the tractor and demand he take a breathalyzer.

His  21-year-old brother, Dominic Leussink, showed up and got involved in the dispute.

Jeremia Leussink was charged with several offences, including resisting arrest and failing to take a breathalyzer. Dominic Leussink, was charged with obstructing a police officer and causing a disturbance.

"Their charges were withdrawn," Calgary lawyer Tonii Roulston said Thursday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"I think after the Crown did a proper assessment of the case with the respect to a reasonable likelihood of conviction and, not to speak for him, but how perhaps the interaction with police was handled."

She said the two brothers are relieved.

"They'd never been involved in the justice system, so they were very overwhelmed initially."

Family members, on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay legal costs, said the younger Leussink brother was busy farming while being home-schooled and doesn't drink alcohol.

Roulston said she's still dissatisfied with what happened to her clients and alleges Jeremia Leussink was "roughed up" by sheriffs when they pulled him out of the tractor.

"It ought to have been assessed initially with respect to when you have a lineup of cars on the highway that are there for a checkstop and your focus becomes this farmer, who actually is just going down the road to get to another field," she said.

"I don't think it worked really well at the beginning. Eventually we had a Crown prosecutor who was experienced who finally made the right decision."

Roulston said there are still some other legal matters to be dealt with.

Because Jeremia Leussink was charged with failing to take a breathalyzer, his learner's licence was automatically suspended, said Roulston.

"Once someone gets any sort of impaired driving charge, he's now is under suspension for 15 months, even though the criminal charges are withdrawn."

She said she is likely to appeal the licence suspension. Another law firm will be in civil court trying to recoup costs for a $300 impound charge for the tractor, as well as for damages to the $300,000-machine when it was towed, she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press





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