Lukas Veit outside the Princeton court house last Thursday, before being taken into custody. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Okanagan man claims mental illness compels him to drive illegally and defy court orders

A Hedley B.C. man who claims he has a mental illness that compels him to drive illegally and disregard court orders was taken into custody last Thursday during Princeton circuit court.

Lukas Veit, 20, pleaded guilty to driving while prohibited, breach of probation, and breaching court conditions.

After a sentencing hearing was adjourned in order to allow for a psychiatric examination, Veit’s bail was revoked and he was handcuffed and led away by sheriffs.

“Mr. Veit has had an opportunity to deal with his demons and underlying issues,” said Crown attorney Nashina Devji. She called the offender a danger to the community.

“Court orders are simply insufficient to control Mr. Veit.”

In the last three years Veit has been found guilty of 15 motor vehicle offenses including three road side suspensions for impaired driving, as well as driving while prohibited, and driving without a license or insurance.

Related: Notorious Hedley driver faces a new slew of charges

Nelson Selamaj, appearing for the defense, claimed his client developed a compulsive disorder at a young age.

“He is someone who is suffering from a mental health issue,” he said. “Mr. Veit is fixated on cars, fixing them, driving them and scrapping them.”

Selamaj said Veit is also unable to put down his phone.

Judge Greg Koturbash said Selamaj argued Veit is practically “addicted to driving,” adding that some medical evidence would have to be introduced for the suggestion to have weight in sentencing.

“I think it would be of assistance to have a psychiatric or psychological report. I do find his brazenness in breaching the orders and continuing to drive to be bizarre to say the least,” said Koturbash. “I admonished him the last time and I gave him a very significant break on this matter.”

Related: Drunk driver gets hammered by judge

In October 2018 Veit pleaded guilty to several counts of driving while prohibited and one count of fleeing from police. Koturbash placed Veit under house arrest for three months, with 18 months probation that included conditions to abstain from driving.

However three times since Veit has been arrested for defying that order, and in each case was released on bail.

Thursday Veit told Koturbash that he recently moved from Hedley to the Lower Mainland, to separate himself from unhealthy associations, and was making an effort to reform.

Devji informed the court that in April Veit was arrested in Surrey for driving while prohibited. At that time he told police he was rushing his grandfather to the hospital, while officers later determined the elderly man was not in medical distress.

In granting the Crown’s application to revoke bail Koturbash said “my focus is the protection of the public…You are a couple of steps away from a Fentanyl dealer when you are out there driving hammered.”

Related: Hedley man shoots at car, then calls police

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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