A Prince George man's mistaken belief he had the right to warn hunters off the rural property he was renting has earned him one year probation with a suspended sentence.
Sandor Francias Gabris, 42, was issued the term Monday at the Prince George courthouse for a brief Aug. 16 standoff with two men near Gauthier Road in the Vanway area west of the city.
Gabris was renting about five acres that was part of a larger quarter section and, in what was described as a "curious bit of reasoning" thought he had "some sort of proprietary interest or was protecting [the land] for the owner," and had posted a number of no trespassing signs.
On the day in question the two men, one a friend of the landowner, were riding their quads while going out to hunt when Gabris, carrying a .22 calibre semiautomatic rifle in one hand and a video camera in the other, confronted the pair.
He originally had been charged with two counts each of forcible confinement and pointing a firearm and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after the complainants claimed he had detained them for about 20 minutes.
However, the recording from the video camera showed the encounter lasting just 32 seconds and was accepted as evidence of the event's true version.
The court was told it showed Gabris telling the two to turn off their quads and then saying "I'd better not catch you here again" which Crown prosecutor Geoffrey McDonald said is "the sort of thing you say when you're sending people on their way, not when you first confront them."
Moreover, there was no sign Gabris pointed the gun, although his actions were enough for him to plead guilty to two lesser counts of assault. Gabris also pleaded guilty to one count of unsafe storage of a firearm after a subsequent police search of his home found the rifle propped up against a closet door frame with no trigger lock on it and on a nearby table a loaded cartridge magazine.
Gabris was also issued a five-year firearms prohibition which will hurt, the court was told, because he earns part of his living as a hunting guide.
"Although he can still guide, of course he can't help people with their firearms, he can't instruct them and so forth, so it makes things a little dicey," defense lawyer Keith Jones said.
Gabris was given three months to transfer the firearms and ammunition he owns to another person, likely to be his father. He was also ordered to pay a $450 victim surcharge within six months.
Gabris does have a previous criminal conviction but it dates back to 1993 when he was sentenced to one day in jail for assault.
In passing sentence, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman agreed it was a "reasonably minor incident although it does involve firearms, fortunately not being shot."