A Yarrow man with no previous criminal record who was found with six handguns threaded for silencers was sentenced last Friday in provincial court to two years less a day in jail.
Members of Iqbal Singh Sidhu’s family were in court for the sentencing hearing into the two-year-old case, some wiping tears away as the prison term was announced.
Sidhu who was 29 at the time was with Kelly Daniel Sweeney in an area of the Chilliwack River Valley referred to by some locals as “shooters’ alley” on Aug. 18, 2016. Sidhu was driving a pickup truck that was stopped by a B.C. Conservation Officer concerned about forest fires and who was attending the area after a report of explosions heard nearby.
Asked if they had any guns, the two said they did not, but the Conservation Officer noted a long gun in a case in the back of the truck.
A subsequent search of the cab of the vehicle turned up 45-calibre ammunition, and six guns. Five were identical and threaded for silencers. The sixth was also threaded for a silencer and had a matching silencer next to it.
Sidhu and Sweeney faced four charges: storage of firearm contrary to regulation; possession of a firearm without licence or registration; loaded/unloaded with ammunition prohibited/restricted firearm; and possession of non-firearm knowing unauthorized.
Sweeney was acquitted of the weapons charges, although is serving a sentence for drugs in the Northwest Territories. After a trial that began Dec. 4, Sidhu was found guilty on June 28 of three of the charges.
At the sentencing hearing on Nov. 16, provincial court Judge Danny Sudeyko said while it was unclear how connected Sidhu was to the firearms in the truck, he was involved enough to be convicted.
“He was certainly involved with the firearms and had an enabling role in their expected distribution for a criminal purpose,” Sudeyko said.
Crown counsel Henry Waldock asked the court for a four-year sentence, while defence asked for a conditional sentence of two years less a day, or 12 months in jail followed by two years probation.
Sudeyko agreed with Crown that a prison term was needed, and was left to balance the seriousness of the types of firearms seized along with their obvious intended use for criminal purposes, with Sidhu’s clean criminal record and family support.
Sidhu had no prior criminal record, and had recently completed his electrical certification. The court received 24 letters of support for him.
Sudeyko sentenced him to two years less a day for the most serious charge, having a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition. He received lesser concurrent sentences for two of the other charges. A stay of proceedings was issued on the fourth charge based on the Kienapple principle, whereby an accused cannot be convicted of two offences that arise out of substantially the same facts.
Sweeney was acquitted of the gun charges but is serving a sentence for drugs in the Northwest Territories.