A 35-year-old Wallaceburg man received an 18-month jail sentence after previously pleading guilty to aggravated assault in the shooting of an 18-year-old woman.
After receiving credit for pre-trial custody, Michael Authier will spend another 90 days behind bars for shooting that sent Brooke Williams to hospital in February 2019.
During pre-trial discussions with assistant Crown attorney James Boonstra, there were some questions about the Crown being able to prove its case due to issues with the witnesses, Authier’s lawyer, Frank Retar, said during Monday’s hearing.
Retar also noted there were problems with the Williams’ evidence when compared to the initial statements she gave to police and those provided during the preliminary inquiry.
“There certainly would have been some credibility and reliability issues,” he said.
During Authier’s plea hearing, the court heard Authier was only trying to frighten Williams and her three friends, who had allegedly tried to rob him during what was supposed to be a drug buy.
Authier’s shotgun blast shattered the passenger-side window, spraying Williams’ face with pellets and shards of glass. She was rushed to the hospital in Wallaceburg, where she was treated for her injuries.
Boonstra accepted the difficulty the Crown may have had in proving the case, noting the witnesses “provided distinctly different versions of what had taken place.”
During a preliminary hearing, one witness even denied being present at the shooting, despite clear testimony and statements from others that he was there, the assistant Crown attorney said.
“It’s a situation where Authier’s guilty plea should certainly receive the benefit of taking responsibility for an offence,” Retar added.
The defence and Crown made the joint submission for an 18-month sentence that was accepted by Justice Bruce Thomas, who noted it registered a conviction for a serious offence in a difficult case.
Boonstra also made a point of stating that calculations for time served did not taking into account any of Authier’s recent time in custody on other matters. Authier, who appeared in the Chatham courtroom Monday via audio, is in custody at the South West Detention Centre in Windsor on another matter.
Before sentencing Authier, the judge asked if he had anything to say.
“I’m sorry,” Authier said.
As part of the sentencing, Thomas took into account Authier’s “meaningful guilty plea” while citing the issues with the Crown’s case and also problems the court had in trying a case during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a significant offence,” Thomas said while addressing Authier. “Clearly the discharge of a firearm into the window of a motor vehicle, which injured the complainant, is no doubt an aggravated assault that endangered the life of Ms. Williams.”
Thomas said it wouldn’t benefit Authier to serve a period of probation but did accept the Crown’s request for a 15-year weapon prohibition.
Thomas wished Authier luck and reminded him: “This is a serious offence. It is on your record. Any further offences by you, it will require a serious sentence and you need to know that.”