Tees farmer jailed for shooting thief

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  • Oct. 12, 2011 5:00 a.m.

JACK WILSON

Red Deer Advocate

RED DEER — A vigilante farmer who shot a man twice with a shotgun after he stole his all-terrain vehicle was sentenced to a jail term Friday.

Brian Knight, 41, of Tees will serve a 90-day intermittent sentence on weekends. He was also banned from owning a firearm or explosives for 10 years.

At Knight’s sentencing hearing in Red Deer’s Court of Queen’s Bench, Judge Monica Bast called it a case of vigilantism. She said a particularly aggravating factor was that Knight used a firearm to twice fire and strike the fleeing thief.

Defence lawyer Balfour Der had pleaded for a conditional discharge, or failing that a suspended sentence, while Crown prosecutor Jason Snider sought a 90-day jail term.

Knight was sentenced for criminal negligence causing bodily harm for shooting Harold Groening, who stole the ATV on March 26, 2009.

He pleaded guilty in mid-January. Court heard at that time that Knight didn’t intend to shoot Groening when the thief was attempting to flee through a field after abandoning the ATV.

Groening’s accomplices had fled in a truck, leaving Groening to drive the ATV down the road with Knight in pursuit in a vehicle.

Knight bumped into Groening, sending him crashing into the ditch.

Knight then grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun from his vehicle and fired high over the fleeing Groening with light birdshot.

But several pellets hit Groening, who fell but got up again, running through a field. Knight fired again, hitting Groening in the back and backside areas.

Groening was briefly hospitalized for numerous wounds.

His two accomplices were sentenced last year after pleading guilty to lesser charges.

Several firearms-related charges earlier were withdrawn against Knight.

Der said later Friday that the sentence would be appealed. He has 30 days to file an appeal with the Alberta Court of Appeal.

Der had implored Bast not to send Knight to jail, but instead give him a conditional discharge.

“I’m just so disappointed,” Der said. “If ever there was someone who deserved to get a discharge and not be saddled with a criminal record, it’s this man.”

Along with farming, Knight works as a power engineer at a Prentiss petrochemical plant.

Der pleaded with Bast to use her power of discretion as a judge and not give Knight a criminal record that would hamper any travel to the U.S. for power engineering courses and limit his ability to coach minor sports.

Der told the judge she has “awesome powers.”

“You can give Mr. Knight a second chance.”

Bast, however, said Knight took the law into his own hands.

She said she knows it’s difficult for people in rural areas to have police immediately respond to an incident.

Bast said Knight chose to chase down the thief and use a firearm when he was not even on his own property, but a rural road.

The fact that Knight shot twice at Groening, especially after the culprit had fallen once, was aggravating.

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