Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for January 20, 2014

Man jailed for chase, possessing stolen property

A man already facing potentially stiff punishment for attempting to murder two peace officers in 2011 had more time added to his name Friday afternoon

By Christopher Reynolds on January 20, 2014 at 3:11 pm

A man already facing potentially stiff punishment for attempting to murder two peace officers in 2011 had more time added to his name Friday afternoon after being convicted on unrelated charges in Yukon Supreme Court.

Christopher Cornell, 32, received a 14-month sentence for four offences: possession of a stolen truck and stolen boat, evading police in a high-speed getaway and “mischief” for damage to the boat.

The charges arose from an incident in September 2011 which saw Cornell careen down the Alaska Highway to avoid arrest.

That happened after a local man spotted him at Goody’s Gas Bar in Porter Creek with the stolen vehicle and boat — which the resident recognized as his friend’s jetboat.
“This would appear to be what we would call a crime spree,” Justice Sheila Martin said in court.

Martin sought “the least invasive type of sentence to achieve the goals stated in the Criminal Code ... especially considering Mr. Cornell’s aboriginal background.”

Martin cited as mitigating factors Cornell’s post-incarceration behaviour following a previous offence as well as his First Nations status.

Cornell worked as a chainsaw operator and labourer for periods during his 20s, proving himself capable of steady employment in spite of his troubled childhood, Martin said.

“His dad was a residential home survivor,” said defence lawyer David Tarnow, who was representing his client pro bono.

“Currently, his dad is on the streets of Whitehorse. He was never there for Mr. Cornell.”

More recently, two of Cornell’s sisters died within a month of each other.

He has a daughter who currently lives with her mother.

A member of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, Cornell meets with elders most weeks at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre for counselling, prayer and ceremonial observances, Tarnow said.

Cornell suffers from symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), the judge acknowledged.

Martin cited as aggravating factors Cornell’s “lengthy criminal record” and history of dangerous driving dating back to 2003.

The judge found the Crown’s submission of a 20-month sentence too harsh.

She tallied an eight-month sentence for dangerously evading arrest with a consecutive six-month sentence for the stolen vehicles and damage to the boat.

The sentence did not treat each charge as completely separate incidents, leading in part to less prison time imposed.

The judge found Cornell guilty of all four charges several hours before she handed down the sentence Friday afternoon.

Cornell appeared expressionless throughout the reading of both decisions.

He sat in prison reds with glasses and closely cropped hair, a scar visible across the top of his head.

Last Thursday, he listened to witnesses’ recollection of events on Sept. 12, 2011.

Whitehorse resident Allan Porter, 40, recalled how he spotted, to his surprise, his friend’s jetboat and trailer — reported stolen that morning — sitting by the gas pumps at Goody’s.

It also happened to be hitched to a Dodge Ram 2500 SLT pickup truck, likewise recently reported stolen.

Porter approached in his truck, the court heard, and confronted Cornell, who was walking out of the store to join his female companion in the cab.

“You interacted with her for two minutes?” asked Tarnow.

“It was more of a screaming match than an interaction,” Porter said.

He pulled in front of the stolen vehicle and the attached boat and trailer to cut off any escape attempt by the duo.

Cornell swerved around him, swiping the front of his truck with the trailer as he passed.

The two were soon tearing down the Alaska Highway, Porter on the phone with police and Cornell roaring ahead to speeds reaching 160 km/h.

“It looked like some pretty fast, erratic driving to me,” Porter testified.

He pulled over at the North Klondike Highway to stay in cell range and talk with the RCMP.

The boat and trailer were found in a ditch further up the road later that day with more than $4,000 in damage.

The court heard the stolen truck was found Sept. 14 abandoned near the fire hall just past the Carcross Cutoff.

The incident foreshadowed events two weeks later that saw a high-powered rifle fired from a speeding truck on the same road, leading to his arrest.

Last year, the court found that Cornell and then-girlfriend Jessica Johnson, 23, both had a role in a Haines Junction robbery and high-speed chase that climaxed in the shooting of an RCMP officer along the Alaska Highway on Sept. 26, 2011.

In addition to being found guilty of attempted murder and using violence and bear spray to rob the store, Cornell was convicted of shooting at the vehicle carrying RCMP Cpl. Kim MacKellar and conservation officer Shane Oakley, among other offences.

The date for Cornell’s sentencing on those charges remains unknown.

The Yukon Supreme Court sentenced Johnson last month to more than three years in a federal penitentiary for her role in the incident.

Star Reporter

CommentsAdd a comment


Jan 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I’m so tired of people’s upbringing being a reason as to why they do such bad/wrong things.  When will people take ownership of theirs lives and rise above?!  Notice how there is ALWAYS something?  It’s always someone else’s fault.

The FASD part does get him a little leeway, I’ll give him that (depending on the severity) but I’m tired of the “daddy/mommy didn’t love me” sob stories.


Jan 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm

@ ugh.
I am sorry that your tired of hearing people use childhood as an excuse for bad behaviour. Obviously you had a somewhat reasonable or better childhood. Not everyone is so lucky.
I knew a man who when he was 5 years old, his dad would tie him and his sister to trees like dogs when he went into town so they wouldn’t get into trouble… sometimes he would get drunk and forget them…This man is now also a drunk like his father.
You have no idea what scarring is left behind when innocence is taken from a child. You might not remember your first Christmas, but I bet you remember your first spanking. Now imagine never having a Christmas and instead getting spanked 5 days a week. Think you’d be a different person today?

It’s important to remember, people don’t choose what happens to them when they’re children, sometimes depending on the severity, they never develop the ability to make good choices as adults because they were only taught how to make bad choices. It makes me sad, not judgmental


Jan 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm


Actually, I did have hardships growing up and everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows but I seem to have risen above and have a steady job and know it’s wrong to commit these acts.  I know that I am responsible for my own actions. 
I understand where you are coming from and don’t disagree—it is sad!  I don’t deny that. 

However, I’m just tired of EVERYONE using a bad childhood (or some other reason) for their actions.  People will always try to blame someone else for their wrong doings and I’m tired of it.

Martin Oreste

Jan 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm

to JayDangles:  Let me tell you yet another story. My own older brother was savagely punished by my father, who was trying to make of him an example for us all. He was tortured in ways I cannot write about it. I still feel shame. Our neighbors reported my father to the police and beating stopped.  My brother was 8 years older than me.
Long story short, my brother turned out to be a good man, an entrepreneur and a good father of three.
I agree with ugh; enough is enough. People should stop believing their own lies and the powers-at-be should stop re-fuelling that lie.

June Jackson

Jan 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

UGH.. I agree with you. At some point a person has to take responsibility for what they do regardless of race, creed, education, financial status, age, or..background.

JayDangles, do not presume that anyone had a “somewhat reasonable or better childhood” because they haven’t robbed anyone, weren’t stealing vehicles, beating anyone up, turn into drunks. junkies or otherwise blame their parents and society for the fact that they are criminals.

Personally, I always felt lucky to get out of my childhood alive. I manage to feed, cloth and house my family, hold a job like millions of others who succeeded. It is attitudes that accept bad behavior that propagates more bad behaviour.

I don’t like excuses being accepted as a defense.  As usual, I speak only for myself when I say.. do the crime, do the time.

Say'in it Again

Jan 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

They made a choice…...... period!
And now you have to pay for that lack of judgment…....... no excuses, don’t want to hear about your poor upbringing, family backgrounds or hiding behind Aboriginal ancestry! It doesn’t matter! Man up and accept your responsibility!

Most of us Aboriginal people have been to hell and back, but at the end of the day it was still your choice!

I have been in jail, lived on the rez, been involved with gangs, been a victim of all sorts of abuse, neglect and poverty growing up (Product of the system), but made the conscious choice and effort to be part of the solution and not the problem! That was my choice, and only I could make it!

You and your lawyer need to stop playing the poor little NDN me card, your perpetuating the stigma! You weren’t thinking about that when your were making your decisions on those days! You sure didn’t think much of your victims and here you are playing that very card?

Use your past as a tool, to beat those terrible odds and not as a cop out! Trust me when I say it can be done…........... In my thirties and making over six figures in my 9 to 5!

Square up with the house, and make a smart choice! Until then, your just another NDN Statistic…..Bravo….....tough guy!!!

north of 60

Jan 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm

The welfare dependency culture breeds personal responsibility out of most people.  They always have someone else to blame for every misfortune in their continually miserable lives.  Until they learn personal responsibility the problems will continue to worsen.  Unfortunately the justice business isn’t doing much to solve the problem either.
Will the education business do any better at creating a sense of personal responsibility? Not likely.

john gould

Jan 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Decided to rob a store and assault a working man at the store, then decided to flee when cops started to chase. Decided you couldn’t outrun them so DECIDED to shoot them. Where in any of those facts does it mention any of this was anyone elses fault but the accused who as a adult decided to get high and make these decisions as a adult and in so doing should expect no sympathy or understanding from our judicial system or anyone else.
This fool had 100s of kilometers to change his Decision and Chose to follow through with his plan. Now we as a society must do what we need to in order to protect the citizens who like to feel safe from people who think it is a good idea to shoot at our Police officers and send this guy to prison for a minimum 20 years. Then upon his release, if he makes it 20 years he should remain on a violent offender order for the rest of his life and to entertain anything other then that would not be in our best interest as a community and its safety. Mr. Cornell has made his choices and now its time to pay for those decisions

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