Judge grounds overpass climber


Man pleads guilty to causing a disturbance

A man who drunkenly occupied one of St. Albert Trail’s pedestrian overpasses will now only be allowed to cross the busy street when his feet are firmly planted on the ground.

Via closed circuit television from the Edmonton Remand Centre, Glen Kelly Ball pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance in a public place, in St. Albert court Monday.

Shortly before 10 p.m. on July 21, RCMP were called to the pedestrian walkway spanning St. Albert Trail near St. Albert Centre where a man was walking on top of the metal security cage.

Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor told the court Ball was heavily intoxicated and required the coaxing of three RCMP officers, every member on shift at the time, before eventually making his way down via ladder provided by the fire department.

Officers noted Ball’s demeanour changed from aggressive – having thrown a freshly opened can of beer at RCMP – to calm and compliant at the end of the 30-minute talk-down.

Taylor said at one point Ball attempted to stand up on the metal cage and nearly fell off. Three officers then grabbed him by his clothes, and a bottle of vodka fell from his jacket and smashed onto the pedway below.

EMS and fire services were also called to the scene and helped to divert traffic along the trail until 10:30 p.m. that evening.

Ball told officers this was the third time he has occupied the footbridge. In January 2007, the 51-year-old climbed onto the top of the overpass in an apparent suicide attempt. He was talked down an hour later by a woman police identified as his sister-in-law and was taken into custody for professional treatment under the Mental Health Act.

When asked about his reasoning for ascending the footbridge this last time, Ball said he was talking with his girlfriend, which subsequently ended in a fight.

“That’s where you go to have a chat?” questioned Judge Norman Mackie.

“Apparently that night I did,” responded Ball.

Ball is no stranger to St. Albert court. His past convictions include obstructing a police officer, theft under $5,000, possession of stolen property, impaired driving, causing a disturbance and assault.

In 2004, he was subdued by officers using a Taser following a drunken rampage in his garage where he was wielding a handsaw and a hammer. At the time he was given an $800 fine and six months probation.

In court Monday, Mackie told Ball he was concerned by the thousands of public dollars expended when police, EMS and fire services were all called to assist in the ordeal.

He handed the St. Albert resident a $450 fine with a $67 victim fine surcharge as well as credit for nine days time served at the remand centre. One of the conditions of Ball’s one-year probation states that he is prohibited from crossing or partially crossing the pedestrian walkway over St. Albert Trail, he can only traverse the roadway on ground level.

“If that inconveniences you, that would make me happy,” added Mackie.

Duty counsel Zane Pocha explained Ball is a divorced father of three and since he is estranged from his family, he plans on going back to live with his mother when he is released from jail.


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