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This article was published 21/2/2020 (242 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A man caught carrying a rifle in a vehicle without a valid firearm licence has been handed more than $500 in fines.
Tyson Mallett pleaded guilty in Brandon provincial court on Thursday to possessing a firearm without a licence.
On Aug. 24, police were patrolling in the area of 18th Street North and the Trans-Canada Highway when they noticed a truck driving with no licence plates on it, Crown attorney Grant Hughes said, and they couldn’t see a registration card in the window.
Officers pulled the truck over and spoke to the driver, who appeared nervous, Hughes said, and claimed to have just purchased the vehicle from Winnipeg.
Police spoke with the occupants in the back seat and found several beverage containers hidden under a black jacket, Hughes said, so they asked all the occupants to exit the vehicle.
During a search, police found a rifle in the area where Mallett had been sitting in the back seat, Hughes said, which was a non-restricted rifle that did not have the trigger lock on.
There was ammunition found with the gun as well as a loaded clip, Hughes said, but the gun itself was not loaded.
Mallett admitted the gun was his, stating he had applied for his possession and acquisition licence but had not received it yet.
Mallett allegedly told police his friends had asked to borrow the gun to do some night hunting, Hughes said, and that they were going to "shoot whatever they saw."
However, defence lawyer Jennifer Janssens said Mallett strongly disputed there was any mention or plan to night hunt that evening.
"It’s quite concerning that (Mallett) is in possession of a firearm in a motor vehicle when he’s not allowed to be in possession of one," Hughes said. "He might have applied for a licence. However, it turns out that at the time of the offence the licence had still not been approved so he shouldn’t have had a firearm until he had a licence."
Hughes recommended a fine would be an appropriate sentence in the circumstances, but Janssens asked the court to consider a conditional discharge — allowing Mallett to earn back his clean record.
Mallett has no prior criminal record, Janssens said, and he immediately took responsibility for the firearm.
"Everything he told police is true. It’s been confirmed that his application was in fact submitted and pending at that time, but of course he hadn’t received it and that’s the basis for his guilty plea," Janssens said.
The firearm was also stored in a case, Janssens added, and wasn’t loaded or being unsafely handled.
"You either have a licence or you don’t," Judge Donovan Dvorak said. "It’s a real issue the court sees with individuals with firearms not properly licensed. It’s not a minor matter, it’s a concerning matter. We have numerous firearms that are used in the area in crime, most of which are unlicensed and certainly being carried by people who are unlicensed."
Dvorak disagreed a conditional discharge was appropriate in the circumstances and sentenced Mallett to a total fine of $520 after surcharges.
Mallett will have the opportunity to regain possession of his firearm once he obtains the proper licensing.
» Twitter: @erindebooy
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