WATCH: A Nanaimo man is going to serve a hefty prison sentence for an act of vigilante justice. The court heard the man was fed up with reoccurring gas thefts and so he took the law into his own hands. Kendall Hanson reports.
It was a crime that shocked the neighbourhood.
Three shots rang out on the morning of Sept. 29.
They were fired by 51-year-old Curtis Gaskell. He was an employee who helped look after a lot of moving trucks on Prideaux Street.
His boss says the trucks were a constant target of gas thieves.
“For the last six years, probably two to three times every week,” said Steve Ferenczi.
Gaskell was frustrated by the thefts which had been reported to police many times.
He borrowed a shotgun from a friend and that morning he waited for the thieves to arrive. When they did he fired two shots at their white sedan, shattering the car’s rear window.
He drove after the car, losing sight of it before firing a third shot into this white sedan.
This was not the same car. He had shot the wrong one.
“I was surprised that he had a weapon to shoot and I was surprised because I didn’t think he would ever do something like that knowing Curtis for years,” said Ferenczi.
Crown Counsel’s Nick Barber called it “a bizarre set of circumstances”, “a perfect example of why citizens shouldn’t take the law into their own hands”, adding it was fortunate no one got hurt.
Gaskell was sentenced to the minimum mandatory sentence for discharging a firearm with the intent to injure of four years in prison.
His employer says Gaskell was a great employee and he doubts he was trying to harm anyone.
He believes the sentence is too harsh.
“I notice that people are getting a lot less time for way more important charges so that really surprised me,” said Ferenczi.
Gaskell, who had been homeless, before starting this job six years ago was also handed a lifetime prohibition from owning firearms.