Dustin Hamilton has an 8,000 watt amplifier powered by five car batteries in the back of his PT Cruiser, but he can no longer play it while in Central Saanich. (Hugo Wong/News staff)

Loud stereo brings clear message from court

Central Saanich man granted conditional discharge for blaring car stereo on West Saanich Road

A year of silence spared a Central Saanich man from a criminal record. Dustin Hamilton was given a conditional discharge and two years probation after blasting his stereo along the same stretch of road in the summer of 2017.

The Crown asked for probation under a suspended sentence, which involves a criminal record. The defence requested a conditional discharge, which does not. In her reasoning, Justice Lowe said were it not for his good behaviour over the last year, she would have opted for the suspended sentence. As part of his two-year probation, Hamilton is banned from operating a car stereo in Central Saanich, and he is not to be found on West Saanich Road between Keating Cross Road and Wallace Drive.

Crown prosecutor David Sissons outlined the complaints against Hamilton. Sissons said Hamilton has “a competition-level stereo system,” with the components weighing 1,000 pounds. The stereo could reach decibel levels in excess of 155 dB. In response to a police officer asking him to turn the music down, Hamilton said “[neighbours] opened a Pandora’s box and they will be getting competition levels” of volume. After that, Hamilton stayed true to his word. Between June 29 and Aug. 12 of last year, he drove up and down West Saanich Road, stereo booming.

RELATED: Car audio installer silenced for now

Sissons read excerpts from several victim impact statements, where residents of West Saanich Road said they could feel Hamilton’s stereo thump in their chests. It shook the floors and walls, rattling dishes and mirrors. They alleged the sound spooked horses, exacerbated PTSD symptoms, and kept a child from sleeping. One complainant said he saw ripples in his coffee cup.

At the time, Hamilton bragged about his stereo on Facebook. Sissons read the post: “Just had six people on their phones recording me, LOL. Gave them a nice 152 decibels with the windows open and a nice middle finger, LOL.”

There was a confrontation at a McDonald’s in Central Saanich when Kevin McLaughlin, who was awoken by the sound of his PT Cruiser, followed Hamilton in his car. After speaking with police, no charges were laid.

Defence lawyer Ben Lynskey said his client acknowledged he got defensive, which he attributed to side effects from prednisone, which treated arthritis in his spine and pelvis. “He was stuck in pride at the time,” which is why he did not de-escalate the situation. He said his client expressed remorse for what happened, particularly for harming people with young children and animals.

Hamilton wanted to complete a business degree, and eventually, those jobs would require the absence of a criminal record. In the meantime, Hamilton planned to continue with his business of installing car stereos, and his lawyer clarified that they were “normal, run-of-the-mill car stereos that you or I would have in our vehicles, not ones with competition-level bass.”

“This is not a crime of dishonesty, this is not a crime of violence, so it does not affect the public interest to grant Mr. Hamilton a discharge,” said Lynskey.

Justice Lowe noted his actions at the time “were hurtful to these people but it was a sign of disrespect most of all.”

Referring to one letter writer, Lowe said “she felt that it was threatening as an earthquake. Those are very powerful words.”

Lowe said she could tell from his body language and behaviour over the past year that he was remorseful, and urged him to continue his good behaviour.

“I hope you take her words to heart, because I really think that speaks volumes,” said Lowe.


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