October 17, 2016 8:26 pm
Updated: October 17, 2016 8:44 pm

Probation for north Okanagan man who stabbed driver while trying to save trapped girlfriend

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A north Okanagan man who stabbed a driver while trying to save his girlfriend who was trapped under a car was sentenced Monday in Vernon, B.C.

The judge took the “usual” circumstances into account when ordering Thomas Ritchie, 29, to serve two years probation for assault with a weapon.

Ritchie plead guilty to the assault.

Last February, Ritchie was walking with his girlfriend and another person on a Vernon street when the group on the sidewalk ended up exchanging words with two strangers in a vehicle.

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“[They] kind of slowly drove by, rolled down their windows, yelled something at us [and] so we all turned around and were like, ‘What?’ Then they put the car into reverse,” Richie’s girlfriend Lisa David said.

The driver is accused of deliberately trying to hit the pedestrians. Two of them were able to get out of the way. David was not.

Read More: Guilty pleas in knife attack on car driver

“My right leg was going underneath the driver’s side tire and then my knee disappeared and my hands were on the bumper,” David said.

She ended up pinned underneath the vehicle.

“I didn’t know what to do. I really thought I was going to die in that second,” David said.

The vehicle kept accelerating even after David was pinned underneath. So Ritchie stepped in to save his girlfriend.

“He ran to the front of the vehicle [and] punched out the driver’s side window,” David said.

“I watched him grab the wheel and he started turning the wheel and the tire came off my leg.”

However, Ritchie also stabbed the driver in the head and neck with a pocketknife and then chased him on foot and sprayed him with pepper spray.

“I do realize what I did was wrong. I do regret the courses of action that I took that day. I’m here to pay for what I did,” said Ritchie in court on Monday.

In handing down his sentence, the judge gave Ritchie credit for pleading guilty and suggested Ritchie could have attempted to fight the charges on the basis that he was trying to defend his girlfriend.

Read More: Witness accused of stabbing driver

“One struggles, frankly, with whether or not, or by what fine line one could suggest Mr. Ritchie didn’t do what was necessary to simply protect the life of his girlfriend,” Judge Mayland McKimm said. “But, he accepts that he used more violence than was necessary. It’s not for me to question that. It makes the plea very meaningful.”

Among other conditions, during the two-year probation period, Ritchie must follow a curfew, abstain from drinking or using drugs and is not allowed to have weapons.

The driver of the car is also facing criminal charges. His case is back in court at the end of this month.

Officials tow away a vehicle after a pedestrian was hit and a driver stabbed, in Vernon, on February 10, 2016.

Megan Turcato/Global News

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