"THERE WAS A LOT OF BLOOD."
KELOWNA – The man who shot his roommate in the leg with a hunting rifle over a rental dispute was sentenced in Kelowna Provincial Court Monday.
Kenneth Brian Ralston, 62, pleaded guilty to counts of aggravated assault and illegal use of a firearm stemming from an incident that took place at Ralston’s property in Lake Country Mar. 3, 2011.
He was sentenced to two years for the assault and one year for use of firearm.
The dispute began while Ralston was allowing long-time friend Michael Anderson to live with him in exchange for $400 a month rent. When Anderson fell behind on his rent, Crown prosecutor Deborah Pope said Ralston became angry and took a loaded hunting rifle to confront Anderson.
Pope says that Ralston told Anderson to “get out of his house or he would shoot him.” When Anderson refused, Ralston told him to “get out” once again. That’s when Anderson was shot in the leg.
The bullet hit an artery and left Anderson in hospital for two months. He also received skin grafts, a metal rod in his femur and several blood transfusions. He spent months undergoing rehabilitation and at one time was told he may lose his leg.
“There was a lot of blood,” said Pope, who acknowledged “Mr. Ralston did appear concerned but intoxicated.”
Defence lawyer Gavin Jones said that Ralston fired the gun by accident and only brought the gun because he was afraid of Anderson, who is 15 years younger and “significantly stronger”.
“There has been a lot of anger and confrontation (between the accused and the victim),” said Judge Anne Wallace, who heard that the two men had been fighting for months prior to the shooting.
Anderson himself described Ralston as one of his “buddies” and testified they had been friends since they worked together at a Winfield motorcycle shop in the 90’s.
Ken Ralston has a history of alcohol abuse and has four convictions for impaired driving dating back to 1972.
“Clearly, alcohol has been and remains a problem (for you),” Wallace said when she delivered the sentence. “You are really lucky you’re not facing manslaughter.”
The maximum sentence for assault with a firearm is life in prison; however Wallace felt two years was appropriate given Ralston’s obvious remorse and lack of violent history.
“I’d like to apologize for what happened,” Ralston told Court Monday. “It was stupid. If I could change it, I would.”
Although no parole will be required upon his release, Ralston is forbidden from owning firearms in the future and must submit to a DNA order.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com, call (250) 718-0428.