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Sentence issued for crime spree, wild ride in stolen pickup

Kirk Arthur Clark gets 16 months time served for May 2022 escapade
smashed-up-cop-car-on-hart-highway cropped
An RCMP cruiser rammed during a May 2022 pursuit of Kirk Arthur Clark and Mark Stephen Barg.

A Prince George man has been sentenced to 16 months time served for his role in a high-profile crime spree and confrontation with RCMP nearly a year ago.

Kirk Arthur Clark, 36, was issued the term Tuesday, when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church largely endorsed what was effectively a joint submission from Crown and defence counsels for the May 10-11, 2022 incident.

Clark and co-accused Mark Stephen Barg were the subject of a manhunt following four break, enter and thefts in the downtown area. The spree began when they stole a pickup truck from a used vehicle dealership and followed up by stealing a licence plate from another vehicle, as well as some tools and a flatbed trailer.

Their cover was blown when they set off an alarm while breaking into a compound in a light industrial area east of Queensway. 

RCMP just missed intercepting the duo but, following a handful of sightings, caught up to them in the vicinity of the Hart Highway and Old Summit Lake Road. By then, the trailer had been abandoned.

Clark and Barg evaded four separate sets of spike belts and their truck reached speeds of up to 140 km/h while sometimes veering into the opposing lanes, narrowly missing at least two civilian vehicles while doing so.

At one point, the pickup truck collided with a police vehicle, leaving commuters travelling the Hart Highway in the morning with the sight of the cruiser, its front end crumpled in, parked near Lehman Street and cordoned off by police tape.

Clark has denied being the driver but, according to an agreed statement of facts, he threw a shovel, a set of large bolt cutters and a box of smaller metal items out of the passenger side window. A pursuing police officer's vehicle was hit by the smaller items but he managed to avoid the larger ones, which could have broken through the windshield, the court was told.

Clark and Barg kept going and eventually abandoned the pickup in an alley between Burden and Alward streets. RCMP did not give up, however, and by about 6 a.m. the two were apprehended in the 300 block of Carney Street, a little more than a block away.

Clark remained in custody for about 5 1/2 months following his arrest and was then released to attend a drug treatment facility in Prince George. But he left shortly after and within three weeks was back in custody where he has remained ever since.

Barg, meanwhile, died from an overdose while out on bail. 

Since then, Clark has taken steps to turn his life around, participating in programming while in custody and, despite an "unenviable criminal record," the hope is that he has learned his lesson, the court was told. 

Given a chance to speak to the court during a sentencing hearing earlier this month, Clark apologized for his actions, saying he took a turn for the worst after losing his job in the oil patch during the pandemic. "Sobriety is my number one goal (upon getting out)," he said.

It was also noted that of the time Clark spent in custody prior to sentencing, terms adding up to 130 days were spent in COVID-related lockdown when inmates were forced to remain in their cells for 23 hours per day.

Clark eventually pleaded guilty to assaulting a peace officer and break and enter with intent to commit an offence, preventing a trial that was expected to last two weeks and involve more than 20 witnesses.