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Touching illegal gun enough to confirm possession for 24-year-old Sault man

On the bright side, he was diagnosed with diabetes that he didn't know about
Police say this gun went off when it was tossed from an Albert Street West rooftop. Image supplied by Sault Ste. Marie Police Service
Briefly handling an illegal firearm confirmed Brandon Wyatt's link to an incident where a sawed-off rifle discharged after it was thrown from the roof of an Albert Street West building.

The 24-year-old man's involvement in the June 26 encounter with city police quite possibly saved his life, a judge also was told Friday.

Wyatt, one of four people charged in connection with the occurrence, pleaded guilty to possession of the .22-calibre weapon.

Ontario Court Justice Joseph B. Wilson heard officers responded to a 911 call about a firearm, and surrounded the residence at 326 Albert St. W.

They saw four people leave an apartment through a window, and a rifle being tossed from the roof, prosecutor David Kirk said.

The firearm discharged close to the officers, but no one was injured.

Kirk said the Crown was not alleging that Wyatt threw it, but his DNA was found on the gun.

It was not the young man's apartment, and ownership of the weapon pointed to another accused, the assistant Crown attorney said.

Wyatt picked up the firearm, handled it and took possession of it for "a fairly brief time," Kirk said.

He didn't have a licence to possess such a weapon - "No one can for a sawed-off rifle," Kirk said.

Wilson heard Wyatt was arrested at the scene, and placed in a police cruiser.

A female officer noticed he was pale and asked him if he was okay.

Wyatt responded that he was fine, and "that's the last he remembers," his lawyer Ken Walker said 

His client went into a diabetic coma and was hospitalized for five days, the defence said.

Kirk said Wyatt was undiagnosed at the time of the incident, and noted the disease can have a physical and mental impact on a person.

Walker told the judge his client wasn't looking for trouble that day.

Wyatt was employed at the time, working with a roofing company in that part of the city, he said.

The young man was feeling sick, and contacted his boss, who asked him to "slug it out until noon," which he did.

His client was trying to get home, to contact his mother and ended up at the apartment, where this incident unfolded, Walker said.

"Maybe he did not make the right decision," the lawyer said. "(But) he got health care right away just by being there."

The Crown and defence jointly recommended that Wyatt be sentenced to 75 days custody - time he will serve consecutive to a jail term that has him behind bars already.

That sentence expires on May 28.

When he imposed the sentence, Wilson noted the young man had pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for his actions.

"This is a serious matter, particularly with weapons that are altered," the judge said. 

A period of custody is called for, Wilson told the accused, adding the circumstances also warrant a life-time weapons ban, which he imposed.

Wilson said he knows diabetes is a very subtle situation, particularly at the onset.

"It silently and slowly takes over . . . can affect judgement."

The judge also urged Wyatt to follow his doctor's orders and to take care of himself.

"Fortunately that officer realized something was at play here and now you are diagnosed."

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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 35 years.
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