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Farmers allegedly run Indigenous man off road, assault and tie him up

It was allegedly a 'vigilante justice' situation, Crown Prosecutor Brynn Achtymichuk told court Monday.

NORTH BATTLEFORD – A 25-year-old man from Little Pine First Nation who stole a truck from an area farmer was sentenced Monday and charges are being considered against the farmers who allegedly caught, assaulted, and tied him up.

On Oct. 10, after breaking into two neighbouring farmyards and stealing a truck, farmers pursued Durrell Bearsears and allegedly ran him off the road into the ditch, assaulted and tied him up until police arrived. 

It was allegedly a “vigilante justice” situation Crown Prosecutor Brynn Achtymichuk told North Battleford Provincial Court Monday.

“The police are looking into it further,” added Achtymichuk.

The Crown and defence entered into a joint sentencing submission of a Community Sentence Order for Bearsears.

“The CSO is quite restrictive,” said Achtymichuk.

For the first six months, Bearsears will be under 24-hour house arrest. The following six months he will have a curfew from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.  He was also ordered to do 25 hours of community service, write an apology to the farmers, and not possess any weapons.

Achtymichuk told the court that the Crown agreed to a CSO because Bearsears' guilty plea to break and enter and theft of a vehicle saved the court a trial. He said he also took the vigilante justice aspect into consideration.

Defence Cara Hill told the court that Bearsears was raised by his grandparents. They both attended residential school. He suffered a lot of loss and grief in his life. His mom died when he was seven, his dad died when he was one, his brother committed suicide when he was 14, and he lost his newborn child.

Hill told the court that the way the events unfolded in the alleged vigilante incident, it was “a serious and dangerous situation” for Bearsears.

Judge Michelle Baldwin accepted the joint submission. She said taking his criminal record with previous property offences into consideration, the charges before the court “would and does result in a jail sentence.”

She acknowledged, however, that he had successfully served a three-month CSO without any breaches, and recognized his Gladue factors due to his grandparents attending Indian Residential School. She also considered the personal loss he suffered, his young age, his early guilty plea, and his partial college education.

“Going forward that could assist you," Judge Baldwin said about Bearsears attending college. 

Hill told the court that Bearsears partially completed a western ranch cow and horse program in Vermillion at Lakeland College and he wants to finish that program and apply for work with local farmers.

Click for more from Crime, Cops and Court. 

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ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

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