NHL defenceman accused of illegal bear hunt in B.C. plans to plead guilty: Crown

Members and supporters of a group against illegal poaching and hunting gather outside B.C. Provincial Court before Anaheim Ducks' defenceman Clayton Stoner's first court appearance, in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday October 9, 2015.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER - An NHL player accused of illegally shooting a grizzly bear on British Columbia's central coast intends to plead guilty, says a Crown lawyer.

Clayton Stoner of the Anaheim Ducks faces five charges for a hunt in 2013, but his case was adjourned Friday.

Prosecutor Jim Cryder told a provincial court judge that he spoke with Stoner's lawyer, who, along with Stoner, did not appear in court.

"Mr. Stoner, through his counsel, would like to enter a plea, as I understand, as soon as possible and dispose of the matter," Cryder told the judge.

A legal articling student who appeared on behalf of Stoner's lawyer, Marvin Stern, confirmed that intention to Judge Brent Hoy.

Stoner has never denied the hunt, which sparked outrage after photos published in a Vancouver newspaper two years ago showed him holding a bear's severed head.

But the former Port McNeill, B.C., resident did not meet residency requirements to have a hunting licence, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Stoner is charged with two counts of knowingly making a false statement to obtain a hunting licence. He also faces separate counts of hunting out of season, hunting without a licence and unlawfully possessing dead wildlife.

Outside court, Cryder said it was not unusual for the case to be delayed.

"It takes time to negotiate things and have agreement," he said. "It's a slow process."

He added that Stoner is not legally required to attend the hearings and a lawyer can enter a plea on his behalf at a future date, which has not been set.

About a dozen people who protested before the hearing and are demanding a ban on trophy hunting were disappointed that the case has been postponed at least three times.

"Clayton Stoner is used to penalties in his hockey career, but this should be the biggest penalty of his life," said Mary-Sue Atkinson, from North Vancouver.

The bear, which local residents had named Cheeky, was killed in an area known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

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