Naked and espousing Freeman slogans, Lance Thatcher stood his ground to stop bailiffs from taking his home.
The effort not only failed, it landed the Merritt man in jail.
In court Friday morning, Thatcher initially refused to confirm his identity, just as he did with RCMP on Wednesday and to sheriffs while in custody.
“Are you Lance Edward Thatcher?” demanded provincial court judge Hermann Rohrmoser.
“I’m here in the matter of that name,” Thatcher replied, continuing to refuse to identify himself.
When asked again, Thatcher replied, “All I can do is give you hearsay information.”
Crown prosecutor Chris Balison told the court that RCMP accompanied a bailiff on Wednesday as part of a repossession of Thatcher’s home by mortgage-holder CIBC.
Thatcher is known to police for his Freeman on the Land beliefs and has a criminal record for obstruction-type offences and breaching court orders. He’s had run-ins from everyone from local tax officials to police in Merritt.
He was committed to the provincial forensic psychiatric hospital for a period in 2011. His brother Paul told The Daily News at that time “Lance has not been the same” since waking up from a six-month coma following pancreatic cancer surgery in 2005.
His wife Christine said in earlier interviews that Lance turned to the internet after getting out of hospital in 2006. With little else to do, he became fascinated by the Freeman movement, what his former wife called “a cult.”
Freemen have shown up in Kamloops court, both in civil and criminal matters, refusing to recognize jurisdiction of authorities. They typically claim they are “natural flesh-and-blood men” who have not consented to be governed by state laws. The most infamous is former Kamloops mayoral candidate Brian Alexander, who had several run-ins with police.
When bailiffs came to remove Thatcher from his home on Fir Avenue in Merritt, he “presented himself naked,” Balison said. He resisted all entreaties to dress himself and co-operate with authorities.
“He responded by espousing his Freeman doctrine. He refused to co-operate and had nonsensical questions,” Balison said.
Balison said at one point the naked 49-year-old man with a pot belly lowered a shoulder and ran at one RCMP member. He was eventually arrested after police managed to dress him in underwear only.
Thatcher was originally charged with obstructing a peace officer.
The home was also owned in the name of Christine. She was not home at the time of the repossession. They owned the home for 13 years.
Thatcher eventually agreed to speak with defence counsel over the lunch break Friday, demanding local lawyer Matt Ford — who rushed to court on quick notice, dressed casually in jeans. After speaking with Ford, Thatcher agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of a court order.
He was sentenced to 18 days in jail along with a year of probation, including that he not go to his former home.
Ford said Thatcher gets by with the help of friends, through a barter system.
“He tells me he enjoys being of service to others and receiving services from others,” Ford told Rohrmoser.
Thatcher was asked by Rohrmoser if he wished to say anything before he was sentenced.
“If I’ve offended anyone I simply ask forgiveness,” he said. “I believe forgiveness is the only way relief can be granted.”