Accused man didn't place loaded gun in car, court told

A man accused of carrying a loaded .357 Luger revolver didn't own the restricted weapon and didn't place it in the car he was driving when police arrested him, a witness testified Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

In the second day of the trial of Joshua Reece, 29, on three weapons charges, a Sicamous resident told the court that the gun was his and he put in the console where police found it.

Adam Elford said he took the gun to Reece's birthday party a few days before Reece - an Alberta man who has a criminal record and is banned from possessing any firearm - was arrested in a tense RCMP takedown near Chase on March 7. Police had earlier identified Reece as a robbery suspect.

Elford, a part-time dog groomer, said he bought the gun from a friend and used it while walking dogs as defence against cougars and bears. He said he took the gun to the birthday because he knew that there had been a home invasion at the same home in January and wanted some protection.

At that time, landlord Ernie Klassen survived several shots, a case investigated as an attempted murder.

Reece only handled the gun briefly as it was passed around at the party, Elford testified.

Defence lawyer Don Campbell used that testimony to corroborate earlier police evidence about two of Reece's fingerprints identified on the revolver.

Elford said he was heavily intoxicated when he left the party to walk to a friend's home in Chase. He didn't want to carry the weapon, so he put in the console of Klassen's car, which was commonly used by others who frequented the house.

"Are you making this up?" Crown prosecutor Joel Gold asked his cross-examination.

Gold suggested the witness was trying to help his friend. He also questioned why Elford would leave the loaded weapon in an unlocked vehicle for several days and not retrieve it.

"I didn't say I was a responsible gun owner or anything like that," Elford said.

In closing statements, Campbell returned to the suspicious movements of Reece in the car once he encountered the police roadblock. Those movements elevated the danger officers perceived as they attempted to have Reece exit the vehicle.

"We have a circumstantial case," Campbell argued. "On March 7, a number of police officers say they saw Mr. Reece with the firearm. There is no necessary information he knew it was there or had control of it."

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