CORNER BROOK — The La Scie man whose unsafe storage of firearms and ammunition was connected to a young boy being shot was given a conditional discharge Tuesday.
Archie Critch, 48, was also given a year’s probation and a one-year firearms prohibition. He was ordered to pay a victim fine surcharge or $50 for each of three counts of careless storage of firearms and ammunition.
In provincial court in Corner Brook Tuesday, Judge Wayne Gorman said Critch committed serious offences which could have had fatal consequences. Although his intent was not to harm anybody, his actions created a dangerous situation. The judge considered the man had no prior convictions and is remorse.
“In this case, I am satisfied that what occurred here is an isolated incident not likely to be repeated,” Gorman stated in his written decision. “Though the seriousness of the offence must be given significant weight in sentencing and general deterrence stressed, the circumstances of the offender must also be weighed.”
On June 19, 2010 Critch, in his haste to get to work after returning home with a .223 -calibre rifle, put the gun under his bed. There were a number of youth in the house alone at the time. Shortly after, police responded to a shooting in which a 15-year-old boy shot a 12-year-old boy. The boy has since recovered from his injury. Two firearms and three boxes of ammunition were found unsecured in the bedroom by police.
Crown attorney Lori St. Croix had requested a prison sentence of 30-60 days, but was not opposed to him serving it at home. She also asked for a five-year firearms prohibition and forfeiture of the guns and ammunition that was seized, along with six other guns Critch testified he owned.
Defence lawyer Averill Baker argued a discharge was appropriate, that a criminal record would hinder future work prospects. She also asked for no firearms prohibition because of the negative impact it would have on the family and their leisure time together. Critch and his three children hunt regularly, and that it was linked to visits to their cabin.
In granting the conditional discharge, Gorman said it was in the best interests of Critch and not contrary to public interest.
“Mr. Critch made a horrendous mistake involving serious criminal carelessness, but he has no previous convictions and he has been and remains a contributing member of our society and a law-abiding citizen,” he wrote. “The seriousness of the offences committed by him, and the consequences which flowed from them, make this a close case, but I am satisfied when the entire circumstances are assessed that it would not be contrary to the public interest to grant a discharge in this specific case.”
The judge, whose discretion it is to grant the firearms prohibition in this situation, said there was evidence the careless storage of ammunition was long standing. He said a prohibition on firearms should not prevent the Critches from going to their cabin, like he testified, and it was important to ensure the safety of the community of La Scie to do so. Due to the lack of a criminal record, he limited it to one year.
The forfeiture of firearms included just the two guns and ammunition seized by police two years ago.