Second guilty plea in cattle rustler case

A second man has pleaded guilty to killing and butchering calves in a community pasture last July.

William Blanchard was handed a six-month conditional sentence in Dawson Creek provincial court Monday, after entering guilty pleas on charges of killing cattle, theft under $5,000, possession of stolen property, and unauthorized firearm possession.  

Blanchard and two other men were accused of shooting and stealing meat from three calves in the Groundbirch Community Pasture July 26.

Co-accused Cody Housego pleaded guilty to seven related counts in December. The third man, Travis Wiebe, has opted to go to trial, according to the provincial Crown office. He has not been convicted of the offences.

Housego was sentenced to six month's house arrest at a hearing in December. According to evidence given at his disposition, an RCMP constable following up on a tip tracked the three men to a home in Dawson Creek, where officers discovered the hind leg, hip and shoulder sections of a calf in a truck box.

Clint Odden, a third-generation rancher who owned one of the calves, said this is the first time he's heard of cattle rustling in the community pasture.

"There's always suspicion of rustling and poaching and things like that because every year, there's always a certain number of cattle that don't come home," he said. "But we realize there are other things (that kill cattle) like illness and wolf losses.

"It really was an eye opener just how easy (cattle theft) could be done," he said.

Blanchard will be under house arrest for six months, and was given a year's probation. He has been ordered to pay restitution to the owners of the cattle, and must stay away from the community pasture. In addition, he is prohibited from owning firearms for five years.

According to court documents, he was born in 1996.

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