RCMP dog Jager helped make an arrest after tracking assault suspect through snow and steep terrain in Nanaimo Lakes backcountry this past weekend. Photo Submitted

Police dog tracks suspect through wintry Vancouver Island backcountry

Assault suspect arrested after two-hour track by Nanaimo RCMP police dog Jager

One man is in custody and facing weapons and property-related charges after a Nanaimo RCMP police dog handler and other officers tracked him for hours through snow and rugged terrain following an alleged assault on the weekend.

According to police, the incident began at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday when the suspect, David Banford, 39, and a woman, both from Nanaimo, were found inside a private cabin at Deadwood Creek Campsite, at Nanaimo Lakes, by two men who are the cabin’s owners. They called the RCMP and then decided to walk the suspects to the main gate at Nanaimo Lakes Road to wait for police to arrive.

As they were being walked to the gate, Banford allegedly pulled out a can of pepper spray, sprayed both of their escorts and fled.

Banford’s female companion did not resist and was taken into custody when police arrived. Constables Tanner Fowler and Josh Grafton with police dog Jager then set out to track down Banford, which took them on a two-hour trek, following Jager’s lead, through 30-centimetre deep snow, brush and up and down steep mountainous terrain – a track Grafton described as one of his toughest to date – before they caught up with Banford, who received several bites during his arrest. He was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to be treated and was then held in custody overnight at Nanaimo RCMP detachment.

Given the remoteness of the search area and limited cell phone and radio coverage, additional officers and Nanaimo Search and Rescue were called in to help bring Banford to waiting police vehicles.

Banford appeared in provincial court in Nanaimo on Tuesday where he was charged with two counts of assault with a weapon and break-and-enter. He has been released from custody pending his next court appearance March 5.

The 29-year-old woman who was with him has also been released on a promise to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo May 7 to face a charge of one count of break-and-enter.



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