Minimum sentence for firing shotgun and breaking into Penticton school | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Minimum sentence for firing shotgun and breaking into Penticton school

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
November 23, 2017 - 4:53 PM

PENTICTON - A man who fired his shotgun into a telephone and the adjoining wall of his Penticton townhouse before breaking into a nearby school was sentenced to four years in jail today.

Judge Meg Shaw, who could not find a similar case under law from which to draw guidance, said she would have sentenced Yvon Omer Martel of Penticton to three years jail for his crimes, but faced a mandatory minimum of four years for unlawfully discharging a firearm.

Martel was found guilty of break and enter, discharging a firearm and uttering threats following a trial earlier this year.

The charges stemmed from a series of incidents that took place on Dec. 11, 2016 when Martel, who was 58 years old at the time, got into an argument with his wife and fired a blast from his shotgun into a telephone, the shot lodging in the adjoining wall of the couple’s townhouse.

Martel then broke in to nearby Ecole Entre-Lacs School where he was seen by a security guard, who called police. He was arrested without incident.

Judge Shaw noted evidence revealed in court that Martel, a red seal welder, had lost his job earlier in 2016 and was unable to find another. His drinking increased as he became more frustrated by his inability to find work and a tightening financial situation.

Shaw said Martel’s criminal record, very dated, involved four offences between 1997 and 2001, including a break and enter, an assault, a sexual interference and a breach of probation.

She said Martel, who struggles with mental health and depression issues, did suspend his criminal behaviour once in the school and cooperated with police. She noted no injuries occurred in the incident, which also took place early Sunday morning when it was unlikely there would be anyone in the school. He only fired the gun once, and never pointed it at anyone.

Judge Shaw agreed with defence lawyer James Pennington who called Martel’s offences “unique,” defying comparison to several case law examples.

“I agree this case is unique. The offence (of) discharging a firearm into or at a place has a minimum sentence of four years, and a maximum sentence of not more than 14 years,” she said.

“Mr. Martel discharged his shotgun once... Mr. Martel did not ever point the gun at anyone, including his wife. Considering all of the evidence... I would have sentenced Mr. Martel to three years in jail for discharging a firearm,” she said, noting the mandatory minimum forced her to issue a four-year term for the offence.

Judge Shaw sentenced Martel to a further nine months for breaking into the school and 90 days for uttering threats to his wife, to be served concurrently.

Crown prosecutor Ann Lerechs had requested a sentence of six years and three months for the crimes, while Pennington asked for the minimum four-year term.

With time already served, Martel has 938 days, or about 2.5 years remaining in his sentence.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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