September 24, 2014 - 7:30 PM
KELOWNA - When Amelie Normandeau managed to escape the two armed men who burst through her door Halloween night 2012, the first thing she did was start pounding on neighbours’ doors, screaming for help.
According to a decision recently posted online, it started during the early morning hours of Nov. 1, 2012, when Normandeau left her parents’ house where she was handing out candy then headed to her boyfriend’s suite on Belaire Avenue.
She unlocked the door but the key became stuck in the lock and she decided to leave it for her boyfriend, Ryan Fisher, to fix when he got home from work a few hours later.
A few minutes later she was talking to her mother on the phone when there was a knock at the door.
Assuming it was Fisher home early, she got up to answer but the door burst open and Matthew Scott Stewart and another man knocked her to the floor. One had a pistol pointed at her and the other a shotgun.
Normandeau screamed for help but the men threatened her, took her cell phone and removed the battery. They demanded a key to the basement but Normandeau said she did not have it. She told them of another entrance outside and Stewart left to search.
The other man kept his gun pointed at her and threatened to kill her if she moved.
Stewart returned shortly and both men began trying to remove the stuck key from the lock. While they were distracted, Normandeau took the opportunity to escape. She ran screaming down the street and started banging on neighbours’ doors begging for help.
The two men tried to follow her but she hid in some bushes and watched them enter a duplex down the street. She ran the opposite way onto Harvey Avenue and flagged down a taxi driver who called 911.
A police dog tracked the scent to the duplex on Belaire, where residents of the second unit were having a party. Police found cocaine and arrested four people but could not find Stewart. One of them, Andrew Ward, told police he overheard Stewart and the other man say there was an illegal marijuana grow op up the street they planned to rob.
A search of both units recovered an XBox belonging to Fisher, Normandeau’s cell phone, a gun and a safe containing two semi-automatic rifles.
An arrest warrant was issued and Matthew Stewart, 31, was arrested in Surrey January 11, 2013. He has been in custody ever since.
Following a joint submission in Kelowna Supreme Court September 19, Justice G.P. Weatherill sentenced Stewart to three years in prison with one year of probation.
“(Normandeau is) a young, vulnerable woman who was alone in the residence; the drug world and its culture were alien to her,” writes Weatherill. “She continues to be affected by what the offender did, and her response is an inevitable consequence of a crime of this nature.”
Stewart has several prior convictions, including carrying a concealed weapon in 2007 and possession of controlled substances in Merritt, Surrey and Kamloops.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014