Bacon and bears were weaponized on a Fort Simpson campground over the summer.
The offender appeared in a Yellowknife courtroom Wednesday for sentencing on charges of assault and uttering threats.
A husband and his wife were camping at Fort Simpson Territorial Park on Aug. 23 when the husband approached a man at a neighbouring campsite around 9 p.m. to ask him to turn down his loud music.
Crown prosecutor Jeffrey Major-Hansford told the court that the man became “irate” at the suggestion.
Major-Hansford told the court that the offender begun swearing and yelling that he would get the complainant kicked out of the campground. He then threatened to put bacon on his neighbour’s tent to attract bears that he said would “maul” the camper and his family.
The offender pushed the neighbour, who responded by giving him the finger and walking back to his own campsite.
At about 6 a.m. the next morning, the offender followed through with his threats and threw bacon towards his neighbour’s tent. He yelled at the man to “come and fight (him).”
He threatened to beat the man while his wife watched and said he’d break the man’s glasses and nose and “send (him) to Yellowknife in a medevac.”
The husband and wife submitted a victim impact statement to the court. While the document was not read aloud, Major-Hansford noted the incident “obviously had a significant impact on the victims,” and “created a real sense of fear.”
Territorial court judge Donovan Molloy accepted the Crown and defence lawyers’ joint recommendation to release the man on probation without jail, though Molloy said it was with “very significant reservations.”
“You lost your mind and threatened those people in a way that is vulgar and reprehensible,” Molloy said to the offender. "They were simply asking you to be quiet and considerate.”
Molloy called the sentence “very lenient” and said if not for the joint submission he “wouldn’t hesitate” to sentence the man to up to 30 days in jail.
The court heard that the man is actively involved in his community, but has historically had issues with alcohol.
Defence lawyer Paul Falvo advised that the man has been in counselling for two weeks and is scheduled to start a 42-day program at Poundmaker’s Lodge in Edmonton.
“The event forced him to have a reckoning with himself,” Falvo said.
Molloy sentenced him to 12 months of probation where he will take counselling as directed by a probation officer – that includes programming for substance abuse and anger management, Molloy added.
The offender was directed to abstain from alcohol while on probation and complete 120 hours of community service at a rate of 10 hours a month.
“You had better treat this as a wake up call,” Molloy warned. “There’s no excuse for acting in that kind of way. If someone can’t go camping in the Northwest Territories and have a weekend of peace and enjoyment, it’s not a jurisdiction I want to live in.”
The offender told the court that he’s “ashamed” and “embarrassed about the whole thing.”
He prepared a written letter of apology to the victims to express “how bad he feels.”
Molloy said he would allow the letter to be sent through a probation officer in spite of the no-contact order he directed between the offender and the victims.
The victims “are still, understandably, quite shaken by what happened,” Molloy said. “If you can’t stop drinking then you need to stay away from people entirely.”
“It is only by the grace of god that you’re going through that door, (pointing to the courtroom door for public use) rather than that door (pointing towards the door for those held in custody).”