Stephen Pawlak was sentenced in Courtenay on Tuesday, April 27. File photo

Stephen Pawlak was sentenced in Courtenay on Tuesday, April 27. File photo

Four years for armed man removed from Island store washroom with a flash grenade

Stephen Pawlak already had lifetime firearms bans for previous offences

An armed man flushed out of a Black Creek public washroom by police with a flash grenade in 2019 has been ordered to spend the next two years in jail.

Stephen Charles Pawlak, 44, of Campbell River was given a four-year sentence in provincial court in Courtenay Tuesday for weapons charges, but with credit for time in custody, this brought the net time down to two years less a day.

Pawlak was arrested in October 2019 after an altercation at the Black Creek General Store where, carrying a pistol, he pulled in to use the washroom.

Pawlak tried to block the door, and police waited five minutes and ultimately used a flash grenade to take him into custody.

RCMP had been following him after receiving information from a retired police officer that Pawlak had mentioned shooting an RCMP officer in the face if the officer approached him. The witness was concerned Pawlak was in an agitated state and reported it to police. The witness’s initial interaction with Pawlak over the weapon had taken place a couple of weeks before.

“Mr. Pawlak had the gun for a minimum of two weeks,” Judge Brian Hutcheson said, adding there was no evidence the accused had any intent to dispose of the gun, a .38-calibre pistol.

RELATED STORY: RCMP Emergency Response Team arrest man at Black Creek General Store

Initially, Pawlak was charged with uttering threats, along with seven other charges, mostly weapons related. Last October, he pleaded guilty to two of the eight charges: one for the firearm and ammunition and a second for possession contrary to a court order. The other charges were stayed.

In court Tuesday, Hutcheson considered mitigating factors such as Pawlak’s difficult upbringing, which included abuse, substance abuse and his pleas to the two charges. A pre-sentence report outlined challenges for him, but also included comments from a couple of corrections officers that his behaviour in custody has improved as he has gotten older.

As aggravating factors, the judge had to consider principles such as denunciation of firearms as well as Pawlak’s record of nearly 50 offences, including five robberies, break-ins, assaults and previous lifetime firearms bans.

Hutcheson’s decision for a four-year sentence fell midway between what Crown and defence counsel considered appropriate. What followed was a sometimes convoluted math exercise between the judge and the lawyers that came down to a matter of days.

In the end, all sides agreed for the sum of two years less a day, which was in line with Pawlak’s wish for provincial rather federal time. The count for breaching the firearm ban also got a one-year concurrent sentence.

Pawlak’s sentence also includes a DNA order, a firearms ban and a probation order for two years that consists of a non-contact order with a witness.

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mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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