PENTICTON - An Oliver man who took matters into his own hands after a business deal soured will have to wait to find out his fate following a sentencing hearing today.
Bryce Michael Williamson, 28, entered guilty pleas on four files containing 13 charges stemming from a residential break and enter that occurred in December, 2015 in Oliver.
Crown prosecutor Kurt Froehlich told court Williamson's grandfather was involved in a legal marijurana grow operation with a business partner. The relationships between the business partner and his grandfather had become strained.
Williamson made a series of threatening phone calls to his grandfather's business partner on Dec. 5, 2015. He accused the partner of stealing his grandfather’s money. Williamson also demanded a large sum of money to be placed in envelopes or men would be coming to assault him in front of his children.
On the morning of Dec. 26 the business partner received a phone call from his father, who was looking after his Oliver home while he was away in Alberta for Christmas, telling him his residence had been broken into. The house had been ransacked and a jewel box and safe was missing from the master bedroom.
Oliver RCMP were notified of the break and enter and arrived to find a Williamson by the front door. He ran into the backyard where police arrested him. A knife and a remote garage door opener belonging to the residence was found on Williamson.
As he was being arrested, Williamson claimed he was just looking for what was owed to him.
The business partner's father provided a statement to police, saying he had noticed the break-in earlier in the morning after seeing tire tracks up to the garage, at which time he informed his son. At the request of his son, he returned to the residence shortly before 4 p.m. the same day and found Williamson in the house, wielding a large knife.
WIlliamson knocked the man to the ground, held the knife to his head and told him he would kill him and his family. Williamson eventually let him go. The man then moved toward the door and fled the building, calling his wife while driving away. She then called police.
The victim’s father suffered minor abrasions to his face and a bloody nose in the incident. He told police he had left the reporting of the break-in to his son after informing him.
Williamson was released on a promise to appear.
The business partner made a statement to police when he got back to Oliver from Alberta on Jan. 5 after discovering his business had also been broken into.
On Jan. 5, while Williamson was on release, Kelowna RCMP were notified of a man trying to cash a cheque with signatures that didn’t match at the Rutland Money Mart.
Williamson was found to have two cheques totalling $2,700 in his wallet, neither of which belonged to him. He was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court.
On Feb.11, 2016, Williamson failed to report to his bail supervisor and on May 27, Kelowna police stopped a westbound Dodge truck on Highway 33. A record search by police indicated the vehicle’s owner was wanted on outstanding warrants in addition to being a prohibited driver.
Williamson was identified after initially providing a wrong name. He was arrested and jailed.
The Crown prosecutor asked Judge Meg Shaw for a sentence of federal time totalling 53 months on charges of uttering threats, break and enter, assault with a weapon, possession of stolen property under $5,000, using a forged document, possession of a forged document, wilfully resisting a police officer, breach and driving while prohibited.
Froehlich referred to the break and enter as a home invasion, calling it particularly egregious in that a knife was held to the victim’s father’s throat. He also called Williamson’s grudge against the victim unresolved and “a tremendous concern to the Crown.”
Defence lawyer James Pennington said there was no such offence known as a home invasion, calling the break and enter one into an unoccupied residence.
He said his client, who had no prior criminal record, was guilty of vigilante justice who took the law into his own hands after his grandfather suffered financial losses in the victim’s business.
Pennington said his client had discovered $20,000 in missing equipment in the business and took it upon himself to recover what his grandfather lost. He said his client saw no reason to pursue the matter any further and no longer bore a grudge.
He said his client had a job waiting for him upon release, had the support of family and a place to stay, and had made good use of his time in jail by taking counselling for substance abuse issues.
Pennington said the break-in wasn’t worth four years in prison, recommending a two year suspended sentence, along with 441 days time already served, with enhanced credit.
Williamson, speaking on his own behalf, said some of what Crown said was true, some not.
He said he was embarrassed by the incident and now understood he could have taken other avenues to deal with his issues.
Williamson lost his house, truck, credit rating and is $30,000 in debt as a result of his actions.
“It’s been a wake-up call for me,” he said.
“I cannot fulfill my dreams of travelling overseas and drilling around the world because I now have a criminal record and am labelled a convicted felon... being in jail has opened my eyes, realizing I’m not like everyone incarcerated around me," Williamson told the judge. "I do not want to head down that road, so I’m at your mercy to ask you if there are any other options you can send me down.”
Judge Shaw reserved judgement on the matter. The judicial case manager will schedule the next court date.
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