Hunting charges stayed five years after alleged offence

Logging truck driver denies he was pit lamping at private hayfield

A Chilliwack man accused of illegal hunting was jubilant outside court Tuesday when charges were stayed five years after the offences were alleged to have occurred.

Crown prosecutor Joel Gold told Judge Sheri Donegan that he had resolved the matter with the accused, Larry Sigurdson.

Outside court, Sigurdson said he fought the charges because they were without basis. The logging truck driver said he spent thousands of dollars in the course of defending himself in court, including $3,500 for court transcripts alone.

Sigurdson was charged with hunting using a light and hunting on cultivated land after an incident witnessed by conservation officers on Copper Creek Road north of Kamloops Lake in November 2007.

The officers were responding to complaints from ranchers of illegal night hunting, sometimes called pit-lamping. An officer later testified in court that he saw Sigurdson's vehicle stop at a private hayfield, then watched as a beam of light swept the field. When the light fell on the officer's parked vehicle, the apparent search stopped and the vehicle pulled away.

After a brief pursuit, the officer stopped Sigurdson's vehicle and found a flashlight, a hunting rifle and three rounds of ammunition on the front seat. Sigurdson was accompanied by a 15-year-old boy, identified in court proceedings as his stepson.

Sigurdson was convicted in 2010, fined $2,825 and had three guns worth $2,000 forfeited to the Crown. He appealed the conviction in the B.C. Court of Appeal. The appeal judge sent the case back to provincial court on the basis that the convicting judge had made a procedural error.

In the original court hearing, Gold argued that it was not necessary to prove intent. Searching a field with a flashlight while in possession of a firearm constitutes illegal hunting, according to the Wildlife Act.

Sigurdson swore throughout court proceedings that he would not accept a conviction and was prepared to take the matter to B.C. Supreme Court. Citing vagueness within hunting regulations, he mounted a number of constitutional arguments in his defence.

"I was shining the light," said Sam Philips, Sigurdson's stepson from a previous relationship. "I was fifteen years old and shining a light on a field looking for a frigging cow," added Philips, who was planning to testify in Sigurdson's defence Tuesday before the charges were stayed.

He said he did so to settle a "stupid argument" over what's known as "eye shine" - whether a cow's eyes reflect blue or green like those of deer.

Crown counsel Joel Gold would not elaborate on the stay of charges other than to say that Crown had determined it would not be in the public's interest to proceed.

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