Convicted drunk driver arrested in Halifax for trying to buy booze, sent to forensic hospital

Published on January 28, 2014

Metro Halifax

A man deemed a high-risk offender after killing two people while driving drunk has been arrested for trying to buy booze at a Halifax liquor store.

 Michael Gerard Cooper, 55, was arrested by police in the 6900 block of Mumford Road at a Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. outlet Tuesday morning.

Cooper, a native of Cleveland, Richmond Countyy, appeared in Halifax provincial court on Tuesday afternoon and was remanded to the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Burnside for a fitness assessment. He is facing two charges of breaching conditions.

For previous story, click here.


Cooper, 55, was released from a federal penitentiary in New Brunswick last Tuesday after serving a full seven-year sentence for killing Angela Smits, 19, of Sydney, and her boyfriend Michael MacLean, 20, of Albert Bridge, in May 2007 following an accident in Cape Breton.

Cooper has since elected to live in HRM, prompting police in Halifax last week to issue a notification to residents under the high-risk offender information protocol — typically reserved for violent criminals or sex offenders.

Police issued the warning last Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later, police released two new photos of Cooper taken at HRP headquarters. The new pictures were in keeping with court-imposed conditions that required new photos if he altered his appearance.

Police said they would be checking up on Cooper regularly. His release conditions included a ban on buying or consuming alcohol and driving.

Gerry Smith, father of Angela Smits, said he wasn't surprised when he was notified Tuesday by RCMP that Cooper had attempted to purchase alcohol.

He and his wife Patricia had requested that the NSLC, Alcohol and Gaming Division and the Nova Scotia Utility and Review take steps to prevent Cooper from purchasing alcohol. The NSLC agreed to distribute his photo to its stores, something for which Smits said he was grateful.

"I gave him 48 hours, so he went over that," he said. "I thanked them for it because if it wasn't for that, he probably would have walked in there and walked back out and nobody would have known the difference. It was a good thing on their part and they very likely saved someone's life."

Smits added he also believes the arrest shows that he and his wife were justified in taking the steps that they did to try to prevent Cooper from being able to purchase alcohol.

"We knew from what we heard and from what he said that he was going to do it, and he came out and did it," Smits said. "A lot of people thought we were just going out on a limb but we weren't."

He expects now that Cooper will likely be charged with breaching court-ordered conditions.