Gary Denton may never know to what extent a malicious poster campaign against himself and Mike Pearce impacted his reputation as an upstanding citizen in Penticton.
Peter Guttormsson, 49, appeared via video from Vancouver for his sentencing for which he pled guilty to two counts of publishing defamatory libel known to be false and sentenced to six months in jail.
“In one foul swoop he has painted (Denton) as one of the most heinous types of characters in society,” said Crown Councillor Nashina Devji.
Guttormsson, who picked his victims randomly, falsely accused Denton as a child molestor and Pearce as a Nazi-party member.
“It’s the impact it had on my reputation, not as a business man but as a person,” said an emotional Denton while addressing the court with his victim impact statement on Monday.
Guttormsson published posters in January of 2010 featuring Denton and carrying the disturbing message of convicted sex offender and child molesting rapist wanted by police.
“What this person did was plant a seed in people’s minds that Gary was guilty of the offence identified on the posters,” said Denton reading a portion of a victim impact statement from his brother.
In his pre-sentence report Guttormsson said he had chosen the two men because they were people who had some influence in Penticton — Pearce as a current councillor and lawyer and Denton as a realtor and former councillor. He said he was angry after a break up from his spouse who he alleged committed a similar act with the posters on him. He admitted he had an anger problem and was dependent on cocaine and alcohol but pointed blame and said he was pushed out of the construction industry in Penticton. The Crown said he wanted to show others how damaging unfound allegations could be and chose two Penticton people who he believed held power in the groups that had pushed him out of work.
“I regret how I conducted myself and my anger got the better of me,” said Guttormsson in court.
Other posters published by Guttormsson showed an image of city councillor Pearce with a photo-shopped moustache that mimics the kind worn by German dictator Adolf Hitler and a slogan reading ‘Vote for Mike Pearce Nazi Party,” ran below the doctored image.
“I’m glad to see its finally over. You can’t do that sort of stuff and it’s a good lesson for him,” said Pearce.
Judge Gale Sinclair also sentenced Guttormsson to two years of probation with conditions imposed including posting no bills in any public place, no contact with the victims and he is not allowed in Penticton.