Skull Saboteur Pleads Guilty

Words Cam McRae
Date Sep 26, 2015

In 2014 two mountain bikers took it upon themselves to discover who was causing what appeared to be deliberate sabotage, through the placement of debris on mountain bike trails on Mount Fromme. With careful planning and painstaking attention to detail, they placed wildlife cameras on the trails in question and apparently captured images of Ms. Tineke Kraal, a then 64-year old resident of North Vancouver, placing the debris.

Mountain bikers in the area have been noticing debris and other sabotage on certain trails, most of which end near Dempsey Road, for at least ten years.

The evidence, when presented to North Vancouver RCMP was compelling enough for them to arrest Ms Kraal, on January 4th 2015 at 5:00 am, when she was emerging from the forest.

At a hearing requested by Crown counsel Mark Myhre on Friday September 25th, during which the Crown made an application for Judge John Milne to view the trails in question in person, Ms. Tineke Kraal of North Vancouver pleaded guilty. This was the first hearing Ms Kraal has attended, but her lawyer entered the plea on her behalf.

At an earlier court appearance Mark Myhre indicated that the Crown would seek a conditional sentence, also referred to as house Arrest, and this was reiterated on Friday. The maximum sentence for summary offences is a fine of $5000 and six months jail time. Ms Kraal’s lawyer has indicated he would be seeking a conditional discharge.

The two mountain bikers have wished to remain anonymous until this point, but one has now been identified as Shaun Rivers, testified in court yesterday.

After a short recess, a ten-minute video, which included commentary and subtitles for context, was presented to court by Crown counsel. Three POV angles from the bike and rider were used along with hand held shots. Cones were placed on the trail to indicate areas where debris was regularly placed. The video was shown to persuade the Judge that viewing the trails first hand, to understand the danger posed by the placement of debris, was vital. The video, produced by the mountain bikers who originally collected the wildlife camera evidence, showed entire portion of Skull trail below the Baden Powell to the Mill St connector.

During the discussion between the two lawyers Judge Milne pressed Martin Peters for a plea. Peters informed the court that his client would plead guilty.

Despite Crown’s counsel’s contention that seeing the trails in person was the only way to accurately assess the danger these actions presented, Judge Milne, after viewing the video, wasn’t persuaded that this was necessary.

Ms Kraal’s plea agreement, negotiated by her lawyer, Martin Peters and Mark Myhre, includes an agreed upon statement of facts that acknowledges that serious injury was a potential outcome of her actions.

No date for sentencing has been announced.


If you wish to comment on this article, please do so respectfully.

 

 

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Comments

kos
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Kos  - Oct. 3, 2015, 11:56 p.m.

Mandatory trail work days for her!

She'll find out we aren't such bad guys and girls!

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josh-saiz-matterz
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Josh Saiz Matterz  - Sept. 29, 2015, 12:09 p.m.

It's in Canada? Oh well time to move on

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mark-karlstrand
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Mark Karlstrand  - Sept. 28, 2015, 1:10 p.m.

I have to be honest, I wonder if she would have done this if she had a hikers only trail to walk in the morning instead of walking on the multi-use trail. Are there any in that area near her home? I know we all (MTB folks) need and want to promote multi-use to get trail access but I wonder if it's really the best for everyone. I don't have a good answer that would be palatable for all but I do wonder…

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graeme
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graeme  - Sept. 28, 2015, 1:42 p.m.

Quarry trail is right there, it is hiking only i believe.

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CraigH
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Craig Hunt  - Sept. 28, 2015, 3:55 p.m.

Lynn Headwaters Park has 54km of hiking trails and 0km of bike trails:

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 28, 2015, 9:15 p.m.

The trails that were sabotaged for the longest period, were incredibly low traffic. So much so that I can only recall ever seeing another rider (who wasn't with me) on them once. And I've never encountered a hiker. To top it off she was on the trails before daylight most days, when there would be absolutely no traffic.

Beyond that, according to the letter Mr Kraal sent to North Van Council, this was about their dissatisfaction regarding parking restrictions. It makes no sense to suggest this was about trail conflict when you are aware of these facts, and I realize you may not be from this area. The game cameras will have captured riders coming through as well, so perhaps some of the information about traffic and use will come out as well.

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Sept. 29, 2015, 11:58 a.m.

I'm confused here. How is this about parking? This had every appearance of a person trying to deter another specific group from using the trails. Yes, they had their beefs about parking as well, but they were clearly trying to claim the trails and not just the pavement. The Kraal's letter (linked above) shows they only distinguished the trails and the environment based on one criteria: their use of it. There is nothing ecologically or environmentally unique about this land. There are no specific plants, animals, or geographical features risked by mountain bike trails that are not equally or greater affected by dozens if not hundreds of other sources of environmental usage. They merely singled out mountain bikers because they selfishly saw them as competition for a public resource that they wanted all to themselves. There is nothing about any other person's safety or enjoyment considered in their letter or their submissions in the press since the incident. This is simply people trying to use the threat of harm as a crude tool by which to seize control of a public resource. This is why the guilty verdict is so correct, and so satisfying. Now, I'm all for forgiving and moving on, but I'm also not about to forget the ugly, dangerous, and selfish thinking that was behind these actions. I realistically don't expect or demand a harsh punishment. However, I will never forget the malicious and selfish intent that was at the root of Kraal's action, or that same intent that drives other specific selfish zealots forward in their private and petty ploys to purloin public play areas and parks for their personal pleasure.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 30, 2015, 10:51 a.m.

Maybe I don't quite understand your first question, because I agree with your other points. What do you mean exactly when you say. "How is this about parking?"

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Sept. 30, 2015, 8:14 p.m.

Maybe it is I that misinterpreted you. I was inferred from your above post that the Kraal's campaign was based on parking issues. I think I missed something there.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 30, 2015, 9:18 p.m.

If you limit yourself to things that the Kraals have said publicly, the motivation for the sabotage was due to a change in parking restrictions in the neighbourhood near the main MTB area on Fromme. The logic is that most of the parking, aside from locals, is by people coming to ride. Anything else about the motivation for all this is speculative. Of course, that doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it's a guess, be it good or bad.

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Oct. 1, 2015, 9:46 a.m.

A guess implies randomness. To speculate implies wildness. The Kraals have provided an abundance of clues to lead any observant and rationale person to the deduction that their acts of sabotage were conducted for the purpose of bullying bikers out of the woods. No need to tread gently here. This is a criminal we are talking about. In the absence of a genuine apology and explanation, it is normal for those aggrieved by the crime to provide an explanation for the action. The words they use to explain their action at this time (or times previous) are merely expressed to limit their own blameworthiness and the potential prejudice to themselves, and not to come clean on their true objectives.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Oct. 1, 2015, 11:57 a.m.

Ronald Kraal, in his own words, describing the motivation for the actions he and his wife admitted to: “Dear Sirs,I have been a resident of (address removed) for over 14 years and have been at war with mountain bikers ever since some council members didn’t have the foresight to realize that initiating a parking ban on Coleman and McNair would only move them to Dempsey which everyone here predicted but no one on council figured that one out.”

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Oct. 1, 2015, 8:38 p.m.

Thanks Cam- I do get that part. I just don't think it follows that the sabotage was because of parking. I simply contend that the parking gripe was just a part of their broader campaign to lay claim to more than what is theirs (trails, lands, roads). I think we're just caught up in semantics here. I agree with all of what you have written. Thanks for all your work and insight on this.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Oct. 1, 2015, 8:54 p.m.

For once in my life I'm tapping out: We just have to disagree on the interpretation of what is a fact and what is speculation (or its fucking definition!). And it's not like I disagree with a good deal of what you've written. You seem like a decent guy and it's OK to just disagree. Peace.

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poo-stance
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Poo Stance  - Sept. 28, 2015, 11:19 a.m.

How is the "Game Cam" footage admissible in Court?
In another area of BC the RCMP told a group of citizens/volunteers concerned with backcountry areas being trashed that the cams had to be setup by a law enforcement officer as footage captured could be altered. Is my example a case of a RCMP officer not knowing the law?

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Lee-Lau
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Lee Lau  - Sept. 29, 2015, 10:06 p.m.

" Is my example a case of a RCMP officer not knowing the law?"

Correct.

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graeme
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graeme  - Sept. 28, 2015, 11:17 a.m.

Good to see that she has pleaded guilty and acknowledged that her actions could have let to serious injury.

As someone who came across her sabotage several times going down Skull I do not believe it was set up to deliberately hurt someone. There was no barbed wire at neck level, no sharpened sticks pointing uphill just logs and rocks placed at the bottom of the steeps which were usually visible before one dropped in.
I am not saying what she did was right and that she shouldn't be punished and i am aware some people were hurt or nearly hurt from her actions, none seriously that i am aware of.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 28, 2015, 10:37 a.m.

I think the comments here are mostly reasonable. However, I'd like to point out that it is a misrepresentation of the facts to highlight worst case scenarios that might have, but did not occur due to the sabotage. And similarly to talk about other instances of sabotage, that were clearly aimed cause more serious injury, as if it is related to this case.

I trust the courts will make a good judgement based on the detailed facts.

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naveed-nasir
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Naveed Nasir  - Sept. 27, 2015, 1:58 p.m.

Great journalism @cam

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 28, 2015, 10:05 a.m.

Indeed, it's seems totally in line with other reports and is written to a high standard. Well done Cam and NSMB. I've been critical of your coverage of this story at times, but I have appreciated your efforts in trying to keep us informed, and I'm glad you've stuck with it.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Sept. 28, 2015, 10:50 a.m.

Thanks Nat and Naveed. I've learned a lot this year and, while I would have preferred it if these issues hadn't arisen, I've been grateful for the opportunity to stretch and improve. Hopefully we'll be back to our regular programming for some time after this is finally settled. What a crazy year 2015 has been for us and riders on the North Shore.

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JulieT
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ashroadadam1 .  - Sept. 27, 2015, 10:22 a.m.

Glad to see her take responsibility. Don't hold your breath on jail time. She's hardly a threat to society, she has paid a significant price with the stigma, nobody was definitively injured (physically), and the attention to the case serves an effective denunciation for such acts. The only remaining reason to punish is payback (lex talionis). In Canada, our courts (and supposedly our society) does not operate on the eye-for-an-eye principle. Punishment should fit the crime, and here a jail cell hardly seems necessary. I'm happy to see the guilty fee, and if a fine and/or conditions come with it, that's great. If she gets an absolute discharge, I will hardly crap my pants. She may have relatives in other countries to visit, and may still have other good things to offer. As a mountain biker, I'm willing to forgive and move on, and humbly suggest we cease calling for any further punishment….it makes us look vengeful. Let's take the high road and forgive now that the case is settled.

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giddyupPG
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giddyupPG  - Sept. 28, 2015, 8:41 a.m.

Agreed - and very well put.

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kramersdad
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Kramersdad  - Sept. 27, 2015, 8:16 a.m.

Good to see justice prevail. Years ago I had to lay down my dirt bike because someone had tied barbed wire at neck level between two trees on a trail located on Crown land. I can't imagine what such people as Ms. Kraal are thinking. Clearly full of spite and very unwell. I hope she recognizes that she could have severely injured someone.

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bri-yt
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Bri YT  - Sept. 26, 2015, 4:23 p.m.

Maybe the most important message here is that mountain bikers will go to any length to identify,apprehend and get a conviction in any such case. And the law is on OUR side

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sockpuppet
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SockPuppet  - Sept. 26, 2015, 11:10 a.m.

Now, how about a sentence stiff enough to send a message that this will not be tolerated.

A few weeks in jail and an nice fine should do.

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blackbird
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tw  - Sept. 26, 2015, 12:28 p.m.

Any sentencing at this point could eliminate her ability to travel to the states. A small thing for some, but a big headache in other situations.

She pleaded guilty. A strong message was delivered.
Let's move on.

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kimcheefartz
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kimcheefartz  - Sept. 26, 2015, 3:27 p.m.

So then let her ability to travel to the US be eliminated. It wasn't a small risk she posed, someone could have died. She's not American, why should that even be a consideration?
Let her sentencing be a lesson for future saboteurs.

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blackfly
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Peter Leeds  - Sept. 26, 2015, 5:08 p.m.

You wouldn't be so dismissive if anyone had gotten hurt, especially yourself. I go down Lower Skull regularly and this hits a little too close to home for me. Deliberate and intentional sabotage of any type may not be INTENDED to injure, but crashes and riders are unpredictable. You could fall funny and break your neck, or have the bike land on you funny and puncture you neck severing the carotid or jugular. Dead in minutes. And it is not impossible. We all take risks riding, but with most riders we are accepting of a "reasonable risk" due to mountain biking's inherent danger. Deliberate action, involving intent and thought crosses the line for me and should be dealt with harshly. Remember the sabotage on Vedder with ramps cut up but left in situ for unsuspecting riders? Are you trying to tell me the intention is to NOT induce some injury, even death? I agree on moving on but there must be a strong precedent here to send a message, especially considering how much more popular riding is becoming, and including increased traffic.

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blackbird
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tw  - Sept. 26, 2015, 10:01 p.m.

You (and the guy below) are welcome to check my previous comments on this subject. They are consistent with yours.

I was not trying to be an asshole.

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blackfly
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Peter Leeds  - Sept. 27, 2015, 5:47 p.m.

I understand. This is something that hits too close to home for me to ambivalent. I am passionate about what I care about.

So Tina Kraal moves to Aldergrove, and Langley is known as the horse capital of Canada. So what is next: Caltrops on horse trails because someone is pissed that horses are predominant? I see it now. But now I am wise.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 28, 2015, 9:59 a.m.

You say that Tina Kraal has moved to Aldergrove like it's common knowledge- Has that been published somewhere? Do you know her? Or is this via the Lynn Valley gossip machine?

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blackfly
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Peter Leeds  - Sept. 28, 2015, 4:57 p.m.

I didn't say it. Someone else did and I live not far from there. Consider the source

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Sept. 28, 2015, 5:11 p.m.

I was giving you a chance to lend more weight to your statement about Tina Kraal moving, because I'm aware that you live nearby. That means you are both exposed to the local rumour mill, and have the opportunity to actually know the facts. You have said nothing to refute your source as being the former.

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satn
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satn  - Sept. 26, 2015, 3:57 p.m.

Excellent outcome

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john-canfield
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John Canfield  - Sept. 26, 2015, 11:08 a.m.

Awesome news. This sets a precedent for other would-be copycats to think twice before they take a direct action approach to their trail grievances.

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