June 16, 2014 - 4:47 PM
VERNON - Packing a loaded gun at a Vernon hotel earned a Lower Mainland man four years of hard time.
Jonathan Alexander Brown, 23, from Surrey, was sentenced June 4 in Vernon Provincial Court for an incident dating back to 2012. Judge Robin Smith refused a Charter challenge from Brown’s lawyer on the mandatory three-year minimum sentence for such a firearm offense, opting to give him an even longer sentence because of several aggravating factors in the case.
The night of the offense was Dec. 7, 2012 at a Vernon hotel where Brown and two other men were staying. Smith said the men were intoxicated and rowdy, leading to complaints from guests and a warning from hotel staff.
Around 4 a.m. the party was still going and staff told the men they had called the police. Just before the RCMP arrived, the men left the hotel, one of them pulling the fire alarm on his way out. Roughly 100 hotel guests were forced to evacuate the building.
Brown verbally confrontated a hotel guest while exiting the elevator. The same guest later identified Brown to police in the parking lot.
Outside the hotel, police ordered Brown to stop but he instead walked into the crowd of 100 people. Aided by the hotel guest, police found, tackled and arrested an uncooperative Brown for mischief. The accused was carrying a loaded .40 calibre Smith and Wesson Glock 22 handgun with 11 rounds of ammunition in the clip. The gun was in a plastic bag, somewhat hidden in clothing. Police didn’t realize he had a gun until after he was arrested and searched.
The gun was unregistered and had been smuggled in from California. Brown and his associates were carrying $27,490 cash rolled up into $1,000 amounts. Smith said Brown was not in Vernon as a resident or tourist, but was there somehow to do with the money. The court was never told the specific purpose for Brown’s presence in Vernon.
At the time of the arrest, Brown was under a ten year firearms prohibition resulting from a 2008 youth court conviction for robbery and assault with a weapon.
The fact Brown was intoxicated, uncooperative, aggressive to a hotel guest, and already prohibited from carrying firearms only aggravated the situation, Smith said. Mitigating factors were Brown’s young age, his lack of an adult criminal record, his family’s support at his trial, and the fact he did not brandish or visually expose the gun to the public.
Justice Smith handed Brown a four year jail sentence for possessing a loaded, restricted handgun. He was also given a one year concurrent jail sentence (served simultaneously with the four years) for possessing a prohibited cartridge magazine, and a nine month concurrent jail sentence for possessing a weapon for a purpose dangerous to the public.
Canada implemented mandatory minimum sentences for some firearms offenses in 2008, however court decisions in Ontario and B.C. have deemed them unconstitutional in the last couple of years.
Smith noted the Ontario and B.C. decisions were persuasive but not legally binding.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014