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The Canadian Man Charged for Defending Himself

When Ian Thomson moved into his home in rural Port Colborne, Ontario, he quickly learned that he had the proverbial "neighbour from hell," a man with a long criminal record and considerable jail time in his past. Thomson had to call the police on numerous occasions when articles of his property went missing and death threats were made against him. To ensure his safety, he installed several surveillance cameras around his house.

One morning in August, 2010 Thomson awoke to find intruders firebombing his house. To see portions of the surveillance videos, click here.

For more details on the attack, here's what I wrote about this case in the Calgary Herald:

As an experienced firearms instructor, Thomson knew what he had to do. He got his gun out of the safe where it was stored and scared the men off his property by firing over their heads.

Thomson was initially charged with four offences, but two of those (careless use of a firearm and pointing a firearm) were dropped by the Crown when it became obvious that his self-defence argument would succeed. The remaining charges, of unsafe storage of his firearm and ammunition, went to trial. A decision was rendered by Justice Colvin on January 3, 2013. Thomson was found not guilty.

However, his problems may not yet be over. The Crown apparently said even before the decision was rendered that if Thomson were not convicted, the Crown would appeal. It seems the Crown wants Thomson to go to jail for storing his gun and his ammunition in the manner necessary to save his life.

Meanwhile, the four intruders recently pleaded guilty under s. 433 of the Criminal Code ("Arson -- disregard to human life"), an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Two of them got sentences of two years. A third man got sentenced to three years. The fourth man -- the one who can be heard in the surveillance video shouting, "Are you prepared to die?" was sentenced to two years on top of the 29 months he has already spent in jail.

Is it just me, or do those sentences seem wildly disproportionate (i.e. far too lenient) when compared to the Crown's insistence that the victim himself should go to jail for the allegedly unsafe storage of his ammo?

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