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Discharging shotgun at intruder nets man house arrest


A Tuktoyaktuk man who spent eight days in prison after discharging a shotgun at an intruder will serve two years of house arrest, minus one day.

In Inuvik Territorial Court the man, who won't be named because this is his first conviction, pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm. Judge Christine Gagnon accepted a joint-proposal and sentenced him to a two year conditional sentence, minus a day. She also prohibited the man from possessing any fire arms for five years — unless hunting.

Crown prosecutor Morgan Fane told court the man was at his home with his spouse on Sept. 22, 2019 when another man dropped by uninvited.

Defense lawyer Shawn Gerstel said this man had previously blinded the father of the accused in an assault and paralyzed two other family members.

"He was a very dangerous person," said Gerstel.

However, the accused allowed him to join them for awhile. But around 8:45 p.m. the accused and his spouse asked the man to leave. He refused and an argument ensued.

Fane said the accused believed the man was threatening his spouse, so he grabbed a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

The man stepped out of the house, then turned around and threatened to break the neck of the accused. The accused then fired the shotgun into the air. The man stood his ground. Then, the accused discharged the shotgun at the intruder twice into the ground near the man's feet. A few pellets hit the man, piercing his skin and causing superficial injuries.

Fane said the accused fully cooperated with police

"This was by every stretch of the imagination an error of self defence," said Fane. "He told the officer exactly what had happened, exactly what he had done and why he did it."

Already imprisoned

Arrested that night, the accused was detained from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1.

"(He) was detained for a longer period of time than he ought to have been," said Fane.

Gerstel added the man and his family were residential school survivors. Fane noted the man had intentionally chosen the shotgun with bird shot to avoid being lethal. Though under close range, said Fane, the weapon could still have been very dangerous.

Gerstel said the man felt he was protecting his family and home and was not a dangerous person.

"He was simply at home, having a beer and watching the football game," said Gerstel.

For his part, the accused apologized to the court, to the victim and his family.

"I'm very sorry for my actions," he said.

While serving his house arrest, the man is forbidden from possessing fire arms, consuming alcohol or marijuana, and must be in his home unless working. He will be under a 2 p.m. to 11 a.m. curfew for the first 12 months of his sentence, then a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the remainder of his sentence.

He also must forfeit the shotgun used in the incident.

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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