November 5th, 2014 – Hannah Spray, The Star Phoenix, Saskatoon
Bruce Charles Lafreniere, 66, received an 18-month probation term after pleading guilty to careless storage of two guns and ammunition and possessing two prohibited devices.
The weapons were among a collection of 27 long-barrel rifles, an AK-47 assault rifle, 12 handguns, a sawed-off shotgun, swords and knives seized by RCMP on March 30, 2012, after Lafreniere’s wife reported the gun collection to police during divorce proceedings.
Lafreniere’s trial was scheduled for this week in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, but in September, he pleaded guilty to six of the seven charges laid against him.
Lafreniere had proper licences and registration for almost all of the guns, but police proceeded with charges of careless storage regarding a loaded revolver they found in a couch and a sawed-off shotgun they found under a mattress in a bedroom, Crown prosecutor Melodi Kujawa said in court.
He was also charged with careless storage of shotgun ammunition that was found in an open box on the nightstand next to the bed where the shotgun was found, as well as careless storage of “thousands and thousands” of rounds of ammunition found in various locations on the acreage.
Two high-capacity magazines police found on the acreage were classified as prohibited devices, as was the sawed-off shotgun, resulting in two more charges of possessing prohibited devices.
Defence lawyer John Kwok explained in court that Lafreniere is an avid hunter and longtime member of a gun range and “shooting sport was a big part of his life.”
Lafreniere kept guns around the house because of a coyote problem due to a chicken farm next door, as well as a string of break-ins in the district, Kwok said. However, Lafreniere acknowledged he was in violation of the law.
He didn’t modify the shotgun himself, but bought it from a shop in North Battleford in the 1970s, court heard.
“The important thing is Mr. Lafreniere did not cut down the barrel; he did not ask someone to do it. He had purchased it that way; in his belief, he thought it was fine. It wasn’t,” Kwok said.
The Crown and defence jointly submitted a sentence of 18 months probation, with a condition that Lafreniere have an addictions assessment, which Justice Timothy Keene accepted. firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/hspraySP