A man whose girlfriend was gunned down in Abbotsford in July 2010 said her death and repeated police warnings that his own life was in danger led to him abusing drugs as a coping mechanism.
According to provincial court documents, Gater Albert Browne, 32, committed a series of crimes during a period of supposed heavy drug use.
He was recently sentenced in Surrey to four and a half years in jail after pleading guilty to numerous offences related to seven different incidents.
His charges included possession of a stolen vehicle, assault, dangerous driving, obstruction of a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of a loaded handgun, and possession of methamphetamine.
In his written reasons for sentence, Judge Kenneth Ball said Browne admitted to being involved in a gang for seven years.
In May 2010, he met a woman who required he leave the gang lifestyle as a condition leading to marriage, and he tried to do so.
Ball said Browne was then the target of a shooting. His girlfriend, 22-year-old Mandie Johnson of Langley, was killed after the pair stopped their vehicle on Polar Avenue in Abbotsford in the early morning hours. No one has yet been charged in her death.
“His reaction to the shooting incident, the death of his fiancee and the ongoing warnings by police that his life was in danger caused him to be very unsettled and he began to use drugs, particularly methamphetamine,” Ball said.
Browne has had several prior criminal convictions, including one in 2006 for which he was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
His latest offences include two police chases. One was in April 2011, when the Gang Task Force was planning to execute a warrant for his arrest and began following him in his car.
Coincidentally, a uniformed police officer in an unmarked car noticed Browne, activated his emergency lights and siren, and tried to pull him over.
Instead, Browne sped away. The officer dropped the pursuit, and the Air 1 helicopter was called in. Browne was observed driving through red lights and stop signs, making dangerous lane changes, and forcing other motorists to get out of his way.
Browne then collided with a vehicle that was occupied by four people, and sped away from the scene.
A month later, he was again involved in a police chase after he was spotted in a stolen vehicle in Surrey. Officers deployed spike belts, but even after two of the car’s tires were punctured, Browne kept driving and eventually crashed into the corner of a home.
He was arrested, and a “man purse” that he had thrown on the ground contained a fully loaded Ruger SR9 pistol that had previously been stolen from a Delta home. A quantity of methamphetamine was also found on Browne.
He has been in custody since that arrest. Ball said a mitigating factor in sentencing is that Browne has taken culinary training while in prison and hopes to become a chef.
“It is submitted he is genuinely remorseful. He hopes to spend his future free of gang affiliations and drugs …”