April 27, 2016 - 9:00 PM
SALMON ARM - A provincial court judge has made an example of a jail guard charged with possession of a prohibited, loaded handgun.
Citing a need to deter others from committing similar crimes, Provincial Court Judge Dennis Morgan leaned toward the harsher of two sentences recommended by Crown and defence lawyers during the court case of Peter Harold Armstrong, 54, a former military soldier who currently works as a guard at an RCMP detachment.
Police charged Armstrong with possession of a loaded, prohibited firearm without license or registration following a domestic argument Dec. 29, 2015. No one was injured during the event.
Because Armstrong has no criminal record and took responsibility for what happened, defence lawyer David Ross argued for a conditional discharge, which would allow him to keep working as a jail guard for the RCMP. A conditional discharge only appears on your criminal record for three years.
Crown counsel Mariane Armstrong, on the other hand, emphasized the need for general deterrence and recommended a conditional sentence order — essentially house arrest — for a period of three to four months.
Judge Morgan said other people, even those like Armstrong who are otherwise upstanding citizens, "need to know that the illegal possession of restricted or prohibited handguns will almost assuredly result (in) serious sanctions and a criminal record."
“Unfortunately for Mr. Armstrong, whom I accept is a good man, and observe that there is no indication an adverse impact on the RCMP would result if he were permitted to continue in his employment as a guard, something I hope he will be permitted by his employer to do, I am nevertheless compelled to conclude that it is not in the public interest to sentence him to a conditional discharge,” Morgan said.
Morgan handed Armstrong a two-month conditional sentence order, with strict conditions, to be served in the community. Armstrong is also banned from possessing firearms for the next ten years, and all prohibited or restricted firearms or weapons for life.
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