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Time behind bars avoided for 'temporarily' handling rifle

36-year-old will serve 10 months under house arrest for two earlier weapons offences, as well as four other counts he pleaded guilty to Monday

Tyler Seaton won't spend time behind bars for "temporarily" handling a rifle when he was prohibited from possessing firearms.

The 36-year-old will serve 10 months under house arrest for the two earlier weapons offences, as well as four other counts he pleaded guilty to Monday.

Ontario Court Justice Romuald Kwolek imposed the conditional sentence, which was jointly recommended by the Crown and defence.

Seaton received six months for the gun offences, and four months consecutive for the other charges.

He will be on probation for a year once he completes the custodial sentence.

The recent offences, which included two counts of failing to attend court, missing his fingerprint date and breaching an undertaking, occurred between February 2020 and June 2022.

Seaton was convicted of the 2018 firearm offences during a trial, where he changed his pleas to guilty.

He admitted to unauthorized possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm while prohibited.

Kwolek noted the accused's DNA was found on the long gun and he confessed that he knew the weapon was stolen.

Seaton said "he looked at the gun" a man had shown him in a shed and "touched it." 

Assistant Crown attorney Gary Knox said the lawyers had worked on the resolution for a long time.

The accused has a consistent record for violent and weapons' offences from the early 2000s to 2015, he told the court.

But for "this significant gap" the Crown wouldn't be agreeing to this resolution, the prosecutor said.

Seaton has a substance abuse issue and the sentence would require him to report and be subject to conditions for 22 months, Knox said.

"It will ensure help for him to remain clean."

He also pointed to the aggravating factors – these are gun offences at a time when possession of illegal weapons seems to be increasing in the community and is a great concern.

"The sentence might be on the low end," Knox said, adding but "it was a brief handling of firearms."

Defence lawyer Jasmine Gassi Harnden said her client has an addiction, but "is doing well with his sobriety" and "has been a law-abiding citizen for the past year."

Seaton told the court his girlfriend is expecting a baby and he hopes to change his life.

As well, he indicated that he has been Involved in a methadone program "on and off for five years."

Kwolek noted the accused "had quite a record before 2015" but has come a long way since then, and "it sounds like you are focused."

He told Seaton "now is the time to become responsible."

A conditional sentence is a period of incarceration that keeps you in the community to do positive things, rather than lock you up, the judge explained.

"This is a break for you."

Kwolek also warned Seaton that if he breaks any of the conditions "you can spend the rest of the sentence in custody."

During his sentence, Seaton can only leave his residence for medical emergencies, assessment and counselling, and if he finds employment.

As well, he is permitted to be out on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to obtain the necessities of life.

He also is prohibited from buying and possessing alcohol or other substances.

Seaton received a life-time weapons prohibition and must provide a DNA sample for the national database.

About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 45 years.
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