Nunavut court sentences Kimmirut RCMP house shooter to 34.5 months
“Any attack on the police is an attack on our civil society itself.”
A young Kimmirut man convicted of firing numerous rifle rounds this past March 18 into staff houses occupied by two RCMP members and their families must serve 34 and a half months in prison in addition to the time he’s already served, Justice Andrew Mahar ruled Jan. 10.
David Lyta, 22, pleaded guilty this past Oct. 2 to one count of intentionally discharging a firearm into a place, knowing another person is present in the place.
The charge that Lyta pleaded guilty to now carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years.
“What happened was terrible, but it is also a terrible thing when a young aboriginal person of previous good character has to be sent to the penitentiary,” Mahar said in an oral sentencing judgment Jan. 10.
At a sentencing hearing Dec. 18, a Crown lawyer asked for an eight-year prison sentence and defence lawyer Christian Lyons asked for four years.
In his judgment, Mahar said that what Lyta did was “extremely serious.”
Drunk and suicidal, Lyta fired multiple rounds from a .22 rifle at housing units occupied by RCMP members Larry Olson and Stephen Nolan.
Bullets passed through living areas and bedrooms in the two residences, lodging in window frames and ceilings, Mahar said in his judgment.
“One of the bedrooms was occupied by the three-year-old son of Stephen Nolan and Heather McCann, who heard glass breaking through a baby monitor,” Mahar said.
He also said the two RCMP members “had no way of knowing how many assailants were outside their homes or what sort of weapons were involved; all they knew was that they and their families were in extreme danger.”
The two RCMP members “huddled in their homes” for “several long and terrifying hours,” waiting for an emergency response team to arrive from Iqaluit, Mahar said.
“Any attack on the police is an attack on our civil society itself. There is a strong need for a denunciatory sentence in any case such as this, especially when a firearm is used,” he said.
On the other hand, Mahar said that until that night, Lyta, who worked at the local Northern store, enjoyed a good relationship with the RCMP, and had only a “very minor” criminal record.
“The shooter was someone they could not have anticipated,” Mahar said.
Lyta also surrendered to police without incident after the team arrived from Iqaluit and entered a quick guilty plea.
And because of case law set out in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Gladue and Ipeelie decisions, Mahar said he is required to take Lyta’s aboriginal ancestry into account.
“The four-year minimum sentence is sufficiently harsh to meet the need for denunciation, as well as general and specific deterrence,” Mahar said.
In doing so, he gave Lyta credit for the nine months of remand time he spent at BCC, multiplying those nine months by a factor of 1.5.
That produces a credit of 13 and a half months, which, subtracted from the mandatory 48-month sentence, means Lyta will serve another 34 and a half months in prison.
“I have heard nothing to suggest that the accused was attempting to prolong these matters, my discretion in this matter is not limited statutorily, and the Baffin Correctional Center, where he has been held, is notoriously over-crowded and under-resourced,” Mahar said.