West Kelowna drug dealer Neil Elliot Collins was hypothermic and bloodied when police caught up with him last Boxing Day and ended his flight from the courts.
“He was found in rather grave medical condition,” said crown counsel Monica McParland, Thursday, during a sentencing hearing for a breach of parole that started Dec. 19 2013, when Collins skipped sentencing for drug charges for which he’d earlier pleaded guilty.
Winter’s chill had already settled in the Okanagan by Dec. 26 2013 when a call notifying Mounties to Collins’s location came in, but they found him outside a West Kelowna residence wearing little more than a shirt, a pair of board shorts and missing a running shoe.
“There was blood on his legs and clothing,” said McParland.
Upon closer examination, police realized Collins was soaking, shaking, semi-conscious and his legs and feet were swollen
In the end, he landed in the hospital for three days to recover from hypothermia and other undisclosed issues before going back to prison. Earlier this week he made his sentencing for the drug and weapons charges, netting a three and a half year sentence, less time served.
While McParland detailed the shambolic state Collins was found, she offered no information on how the convicted drug dealer, 37, had spent his week on the lam or why he even tried to escape.
All that’s clear is that Collins’s bedraggled condition was a far cry from the robust shape he was in when he fled the court system a week earlier.
In a compassionate twist the courts had allowed Collins— who had pleaded guilty to trafficking and possession charges relating to a significant cache of heroin, meth and pharmaceuticals he was caught with— to be released on bail so he could spend time with his wife, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
But on the morning he was to return to a courtroom, he cut off his electronic monitoring device and went on the run.
“Police set up several road blocks in the Okanagan,” said McParland, adding they also went to all the stops they believed he may land. They also released the police helicopter, and it circled the region.
“Essentially, there was an all points bulletin.”
While they didn’t find him that day, the search continued on with an eye to the border, as it was believed that Collins had ties to Mexico and plans to get there.
Turns out that Collins mobile phone, which he handed over when he was apprehended half-dressed and half-conscious near home, had a record of all those intentions.
“(He) had help form a number of people and plans to Mexico,” McParland said, adding that Collins was “thumbing his nose at the justice system” when he fled.
Six more months will be added to Collins’s sentence for the breach.
When Judge Vincent Hogan approved the sentence, he pointed out that Collins’s actions weren’t an inconvenience to the courts and police, they also had an impact on future court decisions.
“”It’s unfortunate,” he said. “This erodes the ability of the justice system to allow prisoners to be out for compassionate reasons. This is destructive not only to the system, but to other prisoners.”