Man jailed after smashing cars with oxygen tank on Steveston Highway

Jail in oxygen tank rampage

A man who smashed cars with an oxygen tank during rush hour in Richmond and caused a natural gas leak will be spending 23 months in jail.

Kenneth Roy Preece, 56, had pleaded guilty to five charges related to three separate incidents that took place between the summer of 2022 and this spring.

Richmond Provincial Court judge Diana Vandor sentenced Preece to the jail term on Wednesday afternoon, telling him that it was “necessary to separate you from society to keep the public safe. Nothing else seems to be working.”

Preece had gone on a meth-fuelled rampage on July 22, 2022 and smashed at least eight cars on Steveston Highway outside Ironwood Plaza.

He was then sent to the hospital where he threatened to kill five nurses, including a graphic threat to cut them from top to bottom.

Six months later, on Jan. 9, 2023, Preece was seen throwing rocks through the windows of a commercial building in Ironwood Plaza and proceeded to crack a gas line during a standoff with police.

“In doing so, you created a lethal risk to everyone and everything in the immediate vicinity,” said Vandor.

“You were lucky that you did not cause an explosion and that no one died.”

Preece had also smashed the windshield of a parked car this April.

‘Lengthy’ jail sentence necessary

In her decision, Vandor acknowledged that Preece had been a “contributing member of society” as a licensed electrician for most of his life and his criminal record started eight years ago.

“The last decade has been a difficult one for you,” said Vandor, adding Preece struggled with substance abuse and lost his job, his house and, most recently, his mother.

Preece had apologized for his actions during the sentencing hearing and told Vandor he wished to spend his time in jail to get to a position where he would not repeat the same kind of behaviour.

His early guilty plea was considered a mitigating factor for his sentence, but his “recent, related and significant” criminal record and the fact that he was bound by court orders at the time of the offences and he also endangered many innocent bystanders were aggravating factors.

Vandor decided a “lengthy” jail sentence is necessary to curb Preece’s “escalating” behavior as he is now “committing random attacks that are all senseless, violent and dangerous to the public.”

“Your criminal record demonstrates that you have serious issues managing your anger and tend to react violently to minor provocations,” she said, adding that prior convictions and court orders did not stop Preece from reoffending.

She was also concerned Preece did not make use of mental health resources as directed by another judge who granted him bail in January.

“Until and unless the root causes of your offending can be identified and addressed, the community needs to be kept safe,” said Vandor.

As well as the jail term, Preece was given a two-year probation including conditions to stay away from Ironwood Plaza, not going to parkades without prior permission and not possessing or consuming alcohol and drugs except with prescription. He will have to complete any counselling and other programs deemed necessary by his probation officer.

Preece is also banned from possessing firearms and other weapons for 10 years following his release from prison, in addition to a lifetime ban for possessing any prohibited firearms or weapons.

“Through this sentence, you will have the opportunity to put all of that behind you and enter your 60s with a fresh start,” said Vandor.

Preece is currently serving a jail sentence for another conviction and will serve his 23-month sentence after he is done.

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