A man with a history of stealing guns in Alberta facing charges of doing the same in Chilliwack was denied bail Friday.
Andrew Scott Charpentier was arrested in June in connection with a break-and-enter at a property in Lindell Beach on May 23 during which two safes were stolen, one full of firearms.
Police were tipped off to Charpentier’s alleged connection to the firearms theft after his girlfriend called police to report a domestic assault.
Surveillance began at his home and Judge Kristen Mundstock heard in court on July 19 that he was seen putting a large bag in the trunk of a car. On the afternoon of June 14, nine rifles associated to the break and enter were seized from a vehicle by police in a traffic stop on Young Road.
Charpentier was arrested by RCMP near the Reece Avenue address. A search of the house where he resided turned up several parts of firearms, “brass” knuckles, a passport recently stolen from a car and a $3,000 bike reported stolen from Princeton.
Charpentier of Chilliwack is charged with break enter and theft, possession of property obtained by crime, possession of firearm or ammunition contrary to prohibition order, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, and careless storage of firearm.
He is well-known to police with an extensive criminal record in Chilliwack and beyond.
In a bail hearing in courtroom 204 on Friday, Crown counsel Paul Blessin told the judge he was seeking Charpentier’s detention, while defence counsel Robert Larmer asked him to be released on strict conditions, including 24/7 surveillance at a recovery house run by the It’s Up to You Recovery Society.
Blessin argued Charpentier should be detained on all three grounds set forth in the criminal code for which bail is denied. Primary is to ensure attendance in court, secondary for protection of public safety given the likelihood the accused will offend while on bail, and tertiary is in order to maintain confidence in the administration of justice.
Blessin informed the court of offences from Alberta for which Charpentier was jailed. In April 2018, he pleaded guilty to 30 of the 90 counts he faced after 30 firearms and four crossbows were seized by police in Red Deer. He was sentenced to 230 days in prison.
RCMP said it was one of the largest gun busts of its kind in Red Deer.
“[He] is recently out of custody on those Alberta charges which are extremely similar to the charges that we have here,” Blessin told Judge Mundstock.
Addressing the secondary grounds for detention, Blessin pointed to the conviction in Alberta after which he was banned from possessing firearms for life, and to the fact that twice he was recently convicted of driving while prohibited despite the fact that he does not have a driver’s licence.
“These are serious offences,” Blessin said, pointing to the uncommonly used tertiary grounds for detention. “Yes, these are matters that can obtain sentences well into the federal range.”
In defence submissions, Larmer pointed to the Supreme Court of Canada R v St. Cloud decision, which states, to paraphrase, that “release is the cardinal rule and detention is the exception.”
Larmer argued that the weapons seized were hunting rifles, not the type generally considered a threat to public safety, and to the fact that Charpentier is addicted to crystal meth.
“They are not uzis and they are not handguns,” Larmer said of the guns.
“This is not someone who is career criminal, this is someone who is suffering from an illness…. There is a public interest in rehabilitating drug addicts,” Larmer argued in response to the application to detain on secondary grounds.
In the end, Judge Mundstock agreed with Crown on the secondary and tertiary grounds that Charpentier should be detained, and she denied him bail.
“I find that there is a risk to public safety,” she said. “The risk, in my view, is substantial.
“I’m not satisfied the release plan reduces the risk to the safety of the public to an acceptable level.”
His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 12 for arraignment.