A Tees farmer who pleaded guilty to shooting a man who was stealing his all-terrain vehicle in 2009 has won his sentence appeal.
Brian Knight, 41, pleaded guilty in 2010 to criminal negligence causing bodily harm and was originally sentenced to 90 days in jail last October.
In a judgment released on Friday, the Alberta Court of Appeal rejected the sentence and instead gave Knight a suspended sentence and three months probation, during which he must complete 50 hours of community service and follow other probation rules.
A suspended sentence means Knight will still have a criminal record.
One of the three Court of Appeal justices recommended a conditional discharge, which could eliminate a criminal record if probation is completed successfully.
But the majority of justices supported a suspended sentence for Knight.
All three justices agreed it was unfair for Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Monica Bast to characterize Knight’s conduct as vigilante justice and that jail was required.
On March 26, 2009, clad only in boxer shorts and rubber boots, Knight grabbed a loaded 12-gauge shotgun near his door when his wife woke him up after she heard someone trying to steal their ATV.
Jumping into his pickup truck in the -18C early morning, Knight chased after Harold Groening, formerly of Mirror, who was riding down the gravel road on the stolen ATV.
Groening and two accomplices drove to the Knight property to steal the ATV.
Knight caught up with Groening and rammed his truck into the ATV, sending it careening into a ditch. Groening was tossed off but fled on foot.
Knight grabbed the weapon and fired a “warning” shot above Groening, who fell after he was struck in the back by light birdshot pellets.
Groening got up and Knight fired again, striking Groening once more.
Knight was to serve his 90 days on weekends at the Red Deer Remand Centre.
As part of his sentence, Knight was also banned from owning or possessing firearms and explosives for 10 years.
Groening was jailed for 30 days for theft of property valued at less than $5,000 in late 2010.