Was grandma used in sting?

The sentencing for a prominent South Okanagan guide outfitter has been bogged down by disagreement over whether conservation officers used the recent death of the hunting guide’s grandmother as leverage in an undercover investigation that caught him baiting black bears.

James Darin Wiens, 51, pleaded guilty last year to three Wildlife Act charges stemming from an international investigation into Vaseux Creek Outfitters.

Court previously heard the BC Conservation Officer Service enlisted the help of two American conservation officers who went undercover as clients seeking to hunt a black bear.

During the hunt over the span of four days in 2016, the officers observed Wiens pouring fryer grease and dog food at various locations in the bush to attract bears. A bear was shot and killed by the group at one of the baited sites.

During a teleconference in Penticton court Friday, lawyers met in an attempt to iron out of point of friction between the two sides.

Wiens alleges the undercover officers told him the hunt needed to be shorter than usual because one of them had an ailing grandmother, which encouraged him to bait the bears to speed the process along.

Wiens himself had just recently lost his grandmother, something he claims the officers knew and used that information to manipulate him.

Crown prosecutor John Blackman disputed that point, and said the undercover officers only mentioned their ailing grandmother after the offences occurred as a ruse to cut the trip short.

Judge Michelle Daneliuk directed the two sides to discuss the matter out of court with a date to return Feb. 4, by which time the Crown and defence will decide if evidence needs to be called on the grandmother point. If the defence abandons that argument, Daneliuk will disregard it in her sentencing.

Both sides have previously already tendered sentencing submissions, with the Crown seeking a $30,000 penalty and the defence asking for  $10,000.

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