When victims become criminals

January 15, 2015 11:30 pm

January 15th, 2015 – Brian Lilley, Edmonton Sun,

Ian Thomson – Acquitted after 2-1/2 years and $60,000 legal fees

It should be pretty simple: A man’s home is his castle. Break into that castle at your own risk and deal with any consequences.

That’s the way common law countries have dealt with the use of force in defence of home and hearth for years, but that isn’t the preferred view of police or prosecutors who don’t like the idea that citizens can defend themselves. Thus we have another case of a homeowner facing more time in jail than the three thugs who wanted to rob him.

On Dec. 19, Michael Woodard confronted three people allegedly attempting to rob him in his New Brunswick home. Details from police are sketchy, but what we do know is that at least two people were inside Woodard’s home while a third might have been outside waiting in a car.

One of the two inside the home, uninvited if I might add, was allegedly armed. The 68-year-old Woodard scuffled with the would-be robbers and allegedly shot one, a 17-year-old, in the leg.

The trio fled, Woodard called police who arrested the trio but also charged Woodard with “discharging a firearm with intent and discharging a firearm in a reckless manner.”

I hope he had intent — get the bad guys out of his house. Secondly, it wasn’t reckless — he hit one of them. The kid is damn well lucky to be alive.

The whole thing reminds me of Ian Thomson, an Ontario man who went through a similar ordeal a few years ago. In that case, Thomson woke up to four men throwing Molotov cocktails at his home. Living a long way from police the former firearms instructor fired warning shots at his assailants, put out the fire that could have burned down his home and then called police.

He was charged and also faced more jail time than his attackers.

Thomson was acquitted but not before he was forced through a lengthy court battle that has ruined him financially.

This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen anymore; it shouldn’t have happened in the past. But in February 2012, to deal with overzealous police and prosecutors, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced changes to the law in what he called the Citizen’s Arrest and Self Defence Act.

“Our government is committed to putting real criminals behind bars,” Harper said. “Canadians who have been the victim of a crime should not be re-victimized by the criminal justice system. That’s why we have introduced changes to the Criminal Code so Canadians know they have the law on their side and that our justice system targets criminals and not victims.”

The legislation, which passed two years ago, says that no one is guilt of a crime if they are in possession of their own property — meaning their home — and “they believe on reasonable grounds that another person is about to enter, is entering or has entered the property without being entitled by law to do so.”

Finding robbers in your home in the middle of the night falls into that category, I would say. The law allows for force to be used and that is what Woodard did.

Unfortunately he is now about to face the same prospect of financial ruin that befell Ian Thomson. He can roll over and accept the charges — charges that fly in the face of the law — or he can fight for his natural right to defend himself and his property and be dragged through the courts by prosecutors that don’t seem to give a damn what Parliament said on this issue just a short time ago.

If the law is an ass, it seems those who apply it are worse.