November 23, 2011 4:55 pm

Man sentenced for driving rampage

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METRO VANCOUVER — A Delta man who deliberately drove his car into two pedestrians as part of a crack-fuelled “campaign of terror” in North Vancouver has been handed a four-year jail sentence.

Provincial Court judge Carol Baird Ellan handed the sentence to Michael Lee Meller, 45, for a rampage in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale area July 25 when he drove his Ford Mustang into two women – pinning one of them against a traffic sign and permanently disfiguring her.

“He essentially went on a rampage through the streets of Lower Lonsdale, using his car as a weapon,” said the judge in handing down her sentence.

Meller admitted to having been on a four-day crack binge at the time.

Meller drove into his first victim, Hanna Peinhof, as she was walking down the street with her boyfriend. Meller drove up and asked her if she had crack or wanted crack. She refused. As Peinhof was crossing the street on the crosswalk, Meller floored the accelerator and hit her causing her to bounce off the car on to the ground.

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Minutes later, Meller drove up to a second woman, Lindsay Jones, who was walking from Lonsdale Quay to Waterfront Park with a group of friends. When the women refused to get into his car as he asked, Meller backed up and gunned the engine, hitting Jones and pinning her to a traffic sign for 10 seconds before speeding away. He then drove up to West Keith Road where he deliberately sideswiped and then backed into another car repeatedly.

Finally Meller sped up to a fourth woman, Brynn Campbell, who was walking in an alley between 17th and 18th streets and made the shape of a gun with his fingers.

“There is a force field around you. You cannot move,” he told her, before demanding that she get in the car before he killed her.

Police caught up to Meller around Lonsdale and 19th. He told them he’d binged on crack for the past four days and had done $300-worth of drugs that day.

The next day, he had no recollection of what happened, except for driving through North Vancouver “as though he was in a drag race,” said Crown counsel Monte Ruttan.

Meller’s lawyer asked for one year in jail followed by a conditional sentence and three years’ probation, arguing his client was “very remorseful” and would have a better chance of rehabilitation under lengthy community supervision than in jail. When he doesn’t take drugs, “he’s a law-abiding, hard-working individual,” said Walsoff.

Meller also asked the judge for leniency, telling her he was sorry for hurting his victims. “I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” he said.

But the judge didn’t agree, pointing out the woman he pinned with his car – a previously active person – has essentially been unable to walk since the incident.

Describing the events as a “campaign of terror,” the judge said the incidents were “nothing short of terrifying” for the victims.

Meller will serve four years in jail minus the 108 days he has already spent in custody after pleading guilty to assault with a weapon, impaired driving causing bodily harm, hit and run and threatening. He is also banned from driving for 10 years.

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