BOYLE – A Buffalo Lake man with a history of alcohol abuse and resisting arrest is extremely lucky not to be in jail, after the judge reluctantly agreed to a joint submission from Crown and defence for a fine and probation, despite a strong inclination to impose a stiff custodial sentence.
In Boyle Provincial Court June 14, over the telephone, Bradley Wesley Auger pleaded guilty to a lesser offence of resisting arrest after being charged with assaulting a peace officer stemming from an incident at the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement in October 2021. After hearing the circumstances of the crime and considering Auger’s long and related criminal record, Judge Jeffrey Champion seemed to have serious misgivings about the request from Crown prosecutor Sandra Christensen-Moore and defence lawyer Peter Keyes for a fine of $750 and 12 months of probation.
Judge Champion pointed out Auger’s criminal record indicated both a conviction for flight from police and resisting arrest that each earned 90 days in jail and then a suspended sentence for a disturbing the peace conviction in just the last five years and questioned strongly whether a fine provides an appropriate amount of denunciation and deterrence.
Christensen-Moore addressed the judge’s concern, noting Auger has received custodial sentences for similar crimes in the past but she felt trying a rehabilitative sentence may be more helpful in this particular instance.
“The Crown is hoping to achieve denunciation and deterrence with the fine and then treat more of the root problem with him reacting in the way that he has, hoping with the treatment on alcohol he cannot just deal with the substance itself but the temptation to cope with those stressors with a substance,” she told the judge.
Judge Champion elaborated on his concern further, saying a stronger sentence is justified, not only because of the previous incidents, but because in this particular incident, a single officer attended to a situation where he was immediately confronted with a suspect in a fighting stance, and that should not be tolerated.
“I think the circumstances, respectively, are different but time will tell because it's not likely that another sentence of this nature will be imposed if he goes down the same line of conduct, so to speak,” said Christensen-Moore.
“I think that's a pretty safe assumption,” the judge replied.
Judge Champion heard beforehand from Christensen-Moore that Boyle RCMP were called to Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement Oct. 16, 2021, in response to a complaint of an intoxicated male causing a disturbance at the local community hall. When the officer arrived, a witness identified Auger, but he was nowhere in the area, so the officer tracked him down at a nearby family member's residence. Auger was under conditions not to be intoxicated and to keep the peace at that time.
The officer was allowed into the residence to arrest Auger who immediately “took a fighting stance,” said Christensen-Moore.
“In response, the accused took up a fighting stance and put up his fists. The accused refused to comply with the officer and instead yelled incoherently towards the officer,” she continued, saying the officer then took control of the situation and attempted to lead Auger outside, but the handcuffed man continued to flail and kick, and made contact with the officer.
Keyes told court Auger, 51, has been a wildland firefighter for 36 years, but is still dealing with two serious assaults from 2004 and 2005 that resulted in loss of hearing in one ear, a cracked skull and brain damage. Keyes also said Auger has taken it upon himself to seek rehabilitative treatment.
“Alcohol was certainly a factor. He's maintaining steps to be sober. And he also wants further counselling,” Keyes said, submitting a record of completion of his client’s presence in the program for the record.
“I would have thought that this offense with his criminal record would have attracted a period of incarceration to bring to Mr. Auger’s mind specifically, and society generally, that there has to be an increase in compliance with lawful orders of police,” Judge Champion concluded.
“I am torn on this sentence but the fact that it is a joint submission leads me to accede to the joint submission, reluctantly, because I think with this offender, with that history, that criminal record, and these types of offences, there ought to be a jail sentence.”