April 05, 2013 - 3:02 PM
"A JAIL SENTENCE OF ANY AMOUNT OF TIME WOULD BE A DEATH SENTENCE."
A Kelowna AIDS and medical marijuana activist was sentenced to two years in jail today for shooting a friend in the leg with a shotgun while on cocaine.
Richard Allen Babcock, 53, was involved with The Living Positive Resource Centre and wrote a column for an HIV newsletter, established the Okanagan's first Compassion Club and was an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana which he says helped with his symptoms. He suffers from AIDS, was recently diagnosed with liver cancer, and suffers from Hepatitis B and C. He also has a history of drug abuse.
He was sentenced today on multiple charges including criminal negligence causing bodily harm after a 2010 drug relapse when he shot his friend. His lawyer, Colby Johnson, argued for a one-day jail sentence with 18 months on probation, because “a jail sentence of any amount of time would be a death sentence.”
But Judge Ellen Burdett didn't buy it, saying “there is no evidence to lead me to conclude that there is inadequate medical treatment in prison.”
On June 13, 2010, RCMP responded to a number of 911 calls reporting shots fired and a man injured at 165 South Prior Road in Kelowna. Babcock also called, saying he was trying to bandage a wounded man. When police arrived on scene, Peter Jones was on the ground behind a vehicle, bleeding from his thigh.
RCMP arrested Babcock when he emerged carrying bandages and material for a tourniquet. Jones confirmed that Babcock shot him with a 16-gauge shotgun.
Both men gave police similar accounts of the confrontation. They lived together at the time, were drinking and using cocaine when Babcock began acting strangely. Babcock claims he suddenly felt afraid of Jones and took out a sawed-off shot gun to defend himself, accidentally shooting Jones in the process. Babcock gave Jones money to buy the cocaine, but became paranoid Jones was setting him up.
Prosecutor Martin Nadon said the victim felt it was not an accident and Babcock was behaving aggressively, demanding more cocaine.
Burdett said she gave Babcock credit for his many years of volunteer service and his diligent care for his mentally-ill sister, but didn't accept that this was accident. In the last 34 months, Babcock breached his bail conditions twice. He was caught drinking and was also caught by police carrying a crossbow and arrows in public.
“Even on bail he did not realize he cannot arm himself,” she told the court.
Two of Babcock's sisters were present at today's sentence hearing, as well as a close friend. His family members left the court room in tears after Babcock was taken into custody.
Babcock was charged with a total of seven offences, including possession of a prohibited weapon, aggravated assault, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013