North Okanagan man engaged police in four-hour standoff, sentenced to time served

4-hour standoff, time served

A North Okanagan man with an “unenviable criminal record" who engaged in a four-hour standoff with police in Cherryville in 2022 was sentenced in Vernon court Tuesday.

Justin Tyler Howarth, 35, pleaded guilty to multiple charges including assault, breach of release and threatening to cause bodily harm to an animal. The charges stemmed from three different occasions from May to August 2022, all involving his on-again, off-again girlfriend.

Court heard Howarth assaulted the woman in two separate incidents leading up to the stand-off.

The first incident, on May 28, 2022, involved Howarth pushing the victim to the ground, pulling her hair, insulting her and kicking her once. Howarth left before police were called by the victim. Police arrived and found a 24-inch baton and a dent in the victim's motorhome, which was in Vernon at the time.

On August 16, 2022, police were once again called to the victim's motorhome. Howarth was on a release order at the time which prohibited him from having weapons on him, or having contact with his on-again, off-again girlfriend. The victim's motorhome had been in Cherryville this time, and when police arrived, Howarth was already gone.

The stand-off took place five days afterwards on August 22, 2022. Police were not called to the victim's motorhome, but instead went to Cherryville to check up on the victim. Upon arrival, the victim didn't give any indication to police that Howarth was around.

Officers heard sounds from the motorhome, and found Howarth hiding in the back with a firearm in his hand. Court heard Howarth told officers, “take one more step and I’ll blow my f***cking brains out,” at which point officers left the motorhome.

More officers, the RCMP's Emergency Response Team, and a police dog attended the four-hour standoff, where Howarth also threatened to shoot the police dog.

Howarth lowered the motorhome and started the engine, but the home got stuck as he put it into gear. Howarth did leave the motorhome on his own, where officers seized the loaded firearm and he was arrested, and has remained in custody since.

Court heard Howarth has a history of substance abuse, including crystal meth. He has been sober and taking courses for substance abuse and healthy relationships while at Okanagan Correctional Centre.

“I just want to apologize to everybody that was involved in this and I'm sorry for everything that I caused, any pain,” said Howarth to the court.

Howarth was sentenced to time served for the 923 days he's spent in the OCC, a 30-month probation order and a lifetime ban on possessing firearms. He must also provide a DNA sample for a national database.

More Vernon News