A man arrested for whom police needed a flash grenade to flush out of a Black Creek public washroom was sentenced in provincial court in Courtenay Tuesday.
Stephen Charles Pawlak, 44, of Campbell River was given a four-year sentence for weapons charges, but with credit for time in custody, this brought the net time down to two years less a day.
Pawlak was arrested in October 2019 after an altercation at the Black Creek General Store where, carrying a pistol, he pulled in to use the washroom.
“The police waited for five minutes,” Judge Brian Hutcheson said.
Pawlak tried to block the door, and police ultimately used a flash grenade.
RCMP had been following him after receiving information from a retired police officer that Pawlak had mentioned shooting an RCMP member in the face if the RCMP member approached him. The witness was concerned that Pawlak was in an agitated state and reported it to police. The witness’s initial interaction with Pawlak over the weapon had taken place a couple of weeks before.
“Mr. Pawlak had the gun for a minimum of two weeks,” Hutcheson said, adding there was no evidence the accused had any intent to dispose of the gun, a .38-calibre pistol.
Initially, Pawlak was charged with uttering threats, along with seven other charges, mostly weapons related.
Last October, he pleaded guilty to two of the eight charges: one for the firearm and ammunition and a second for possession contrary to a court order. The other charges were stayed.
In court Tuesday, Hutcheson considered mitigating factors such as Pawlak’s difficult upbringing, which included abuse, substance abuse and his pleas to the two charges. A pre-sentence report outlined challenges for him, but also included comments from a couple of corrections officers that his behaviour in custody has improved as he has gotten older.
As aggravating factors, the judge had to consider principles such as denunciation of firearms as well as Pawlak’s record of nearly 50 offences, including five robberies, break-ins, assaults and previous lifetime firearms bans.
“The Crown points to Mr. Pawlak’s lengthy record,” Hutcheson said.
Hutcheson’s decision for a four-year sentence fell midway between what Crown and defence counsel considered appropriate. What followed was a sometimes convoluted math exercise between the judge and the lawyers that came down to a matter of days. In the end, all sides agreed for the sum of two years less a day, which was in line with Pawlak’s wish for provincial rather federal time. The count for breaching the firearm ban also got a one-year concurrent sentence.
Pawlak’s sentence also includes a DNA order, a firearms ban and a probation order for two years that consists of a non-contact order with a witness.