9 years for park shootout

A man convicted of participating in a gunfight at Vernon's Polson Park in 2014 has been sentenced to nine years in jail.

Justice Peter Rogers sentenced Jacob Lowes to federal prison Friday in Vernon Supreme Court.

Defence lawyer Glenn Verdurmen had earlier argued for a sentence of five to six years, while Crown Council Jeremy Guild was seeking jail time of 10 to 11 1/2 years.

In his ruling, Rogers disagreed with Guild that Lowes was a lost cause and could not be rehabilitated.

Rogers pointed out Lowes was only 31 years old and despite a lengthy criminal record as a youth and adult, he had never served time in a federal prison and did not have access to programs only federal institutions offer.

However, Rogers did agree that Lowes put innocent people in danger when he fired a large-calibre handgun at least three times at Robin Rochemont.

The incident began when Rochemont and two other men attempted to rob Lowes who Rogers said was dealing drugs out of the now-closed Green Valley Motel.

Rogers noted that Lowes decided to arm himself and chase the men across a busy highway rather than stay in the relative safety of his motel room, which he said was an act of vigilantism.

“Mr. Lowes was acting in defence of his criminal enterprise,” said Rogers.

Rogers also took Lowes childhood into consideration, noting he was raised by parents who had drug and alcohol problems and that he himself then fell into the world of drugs, leading to numerous brushes with the law.

However, Rogers agreed with Crown Council that a strong message must be sent about gun violence. Rogers said Lowes chose to chase his assailants, he chose to engage in a gun battle and he has a lengthy criminal record.

But, Rogers did agree with defence that Lowes could be rehabilitated and that he deserved 1.5 days for every day served awaiting trial, meaning Lowes will spent 7 1/2 years in a federal prison.

Earlier this month, a judge dismissed charges against Rochemont in relation to the incident.

Rochemont was charged with discharging a prohibited or restricted firearm with intent to wound, carrying a concealed weapon and other firearms charges.

But in a June 2 written decision following the case, Mr. Justice Kent stated the Crown had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Rochemont was one of the shooters.

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