A Cawston man who brought a fake pistol to protect himself from “drug people” during his search for another man was sentenced to house arrest for brandishing it at an unsuspecting 18-year-old male.
Ronald Douglas Evans, 48, pleaded guilty to assault with a weapon and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose and was sentenced to house arrest Monday in Penticton Provincial Court.
On Oct. 8, 2015 around 8:30 p.m. Evans approached an 18-year-old male, Dylan Murphy, at the intersection of Nanaimo Avenue and Main Street.
Murphy was awaiting a ride from his father after a shift at a local restaurant when Evans approached and asked if he knew his nephew Sheldon Evans.
Ronald told court he was in Penticton looking for Sheldon after Sheldon’s father said he was missing and worried he was caught up in drugs.
Crown counsel Nashina Devji was unable to confirm it was the same Sheldon Evans who pleaded guilty in May to breaking into the Penticton and District Society for Community Living and the Barley Mill Brew Pub, getting a nine-month jail sentence, however, both men hail from Cawston.
Crown said that Ronald pointed a realistic looking 9mm CO2 pistol at Murphy, returned it to his waistband, and returned to his vehicle stating that he was going to get a name and phone number for Murphy after discovering he knew Sheldon. While Ronald was at his truck, Murphy’s father picked him up and the two left, later providing a description to RCMP.
A Penticton RCMP officer quickly located Evans downtown, pulling him over and drawing his service pistol asking Evans to show his hands. After being searched incidental to his arrest, the pistol was located on Evans and officers determined it to be an air pistol.
Crown counsel noted that according to a pre-sentence report Evans suffered from physical, sexual, emotional and mental abuse in what she called a very “sad childhood.” As well, Evans has been battling mental health issues and Devji said he had stopped taking his prescribed medication two years ago, around the same time he was checked in to the Penticton psychiatric ward in 2014.
Crown sought 60 to 90 days in jail, followed by two years of probation.
“While it wasn’t real, it did appear to Mr. Murphy to be a real pistol,” Devji said.
Ronald told the court that he showed Murphy the pistol to show that he was protected.
“I am very remorseful for my actions. I was doing the right thing, I did it the wrong way,” Ronald told the court at his sentencing hearing. “There was no malicious intent on my part towards that young man, I was simply showing people that I could protect myself.”
Ronald said he was searching for Sheldon at the behest of Sheldon’s father, after he was told that Sheldon was involved in drugs.
“I brought (the gun) thinking I was going to be dealing with drug people. I was showing it strictly as a defensive posture, no malicious intent,” Evans said.
However, Judge Brad Chapman didn’t fully understand the intent of the showing the pistol.
“When you just walk up to somebody, an 18 year old sitting on a bench, there’s no threat … he’s not showing any threatening behaviour toward you,” Chapman said.
Ronald said he was at Clancy’s Pub prior to the incident asking people if they knew
Sheldon Evans. He was pointed to the corner of Nanaimo Avenue and Main Street.
“To me it was just an air gun, it wasn’t a real gun, but I do understand the implications if somebody doesn’t know,” Evans said. “I didn’t understand before, but I do now.”
Chapman outlined his precarious position, noting the seriousness of the crime.
“I have to send a message to others too that you can’t take the law into your own hands, or threaten violence. I’ve got to look at it from this young fella’s standpoint, that he was probably concerned, perhaps frightened that’s why he probably phoned the police right away,” Chapman said.
Chapman noted the maximum sentence for the charges is 10 years in jail.
“Generally speaking, people go to jail for these offences,” Chapman said. “I don’t know if that’s the best place for you.”
Evans has a criminal history mostly related to property offences, but his last conviction was 14 years ago.
“You can’t walk out in the community, even with a BB gun, threatening to use it when people don’t know it’s a BB gun. Even if, from your perspective, you have a legitimate reason for doing it,” Chapman said.
Evans received a suspended sentence and was place on probation for two years, remaining under house arrest for four months and subscribing to a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the eight months following.