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Three-year sentence for man caught with stolen restricted guns

A Yellowknife man found to be in possession of numerous stolen and restricted guns during a traffic stop last year was handed a three-year sentence in NWT Supreme Court Thursday.

Michael Robert Taylor, 28, was convicted of multiple firearm-related offences in May after he pleaded guilty to one count of transporting restricted firearms without proper storage, one count of possessing a weapon obtained by commission of an offence, and one count of possessing a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition.

In the early hours of Feb. 24, 2017, Hay River RCMP stopped a vehicle for speeding near Enterprise. Taylor was a passenger in the car, driven by a woman.

Mounties searched the trunk of the vehicle, locating a bag containing three restricted handguns and a magazine with seven cartridges. The pair was arrested and the car was towed to the Hay River RCMP detachment, where officers conducted a more thorough search of the vehicle.

At the back of the car, police found an unlocked plastic case with two more restricted guns – a Smith and Wesson revolver and a Beretta semi-automatic pistol – inside.

None of the guns seized were properly stored or locked.

Taylor acknowledged the guns were in his possession and that he knew they were stolen.

On the same day, just hours earlier, the five firearms were stolen from a garage in Yellowknife.

Taylor was never alleged to have stolen the guns himself, and was only convicted of possessing the weapons obtained by commission of an offence.

Due to a previous conviction, Taylor was already banned from possessing firearms at the time of his arrest.

At a facts and sentencing hearing Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Duane Praught called the presence of the magazines “serious,” noting there was readily accessible ammunition in the car Taylor was in.

At the same hearing, Praught submitted Taylor’s criminal record, underscoring Taylor’s 20 convictions dating back to 2010. Of those convictions, three are violent offences, with a trafficking conviction being entered in 2012.

In February, Taylor was convicted of assaulting another inmate at North Slave Correctional Complex. 

Praught also emphasized the fact the guns were stolen, calling the conviction for possessing a weapon obtained by commission of offence "aggravating."

Stressing the seriousness of gun-related crimes while underscoring Taylor's lengthy criminal record that's "unusual for someone his age," Praught sought a global sentence of three years.

On Tuesday, Taylor’s lawyer Tracy Bock deemed Crown’s sentencing submission to be on the higher end, and instead asked for a sentence in the range of 26 to 36 months.

Reading aloud Taylor’s pre-sentence report, which offers insight into offenders’ backgrounds, Bock said abuse and tragedy drove his client to use drugs and alcohol, telling the court he’d been “caught in a transient drug lifestyle.”

Bock said Taylor wants to rebuild his life, stay sober and return to his daughter in Edmonton, where he’s originally from.

Taylor apologized for his actions and echoed his lawyer’s sentiments.

“I want to be in my daughter’s life. The sooner I get out of here the better for a little 6-year-old girl,” said Taylor.

Addressing Taylor before handing down her decision Thursday, Justice Shannon Smallwood

called the gun-related crime a “serious concern,” and returned to the topic of Taylor's young daughter.

“She needs a father, not someone who is in and out of jail,” said Smallwood.

Along with a global three-year sentence, Taylor is banned from possessing firearms for 15 years. With credit for time already served in custody – 15 months – Taylor will spend another 21 months behind bars.