A Courtenay man who has refused to reveal the location of at least 30 missing firearms was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Monday for a dozen gun-related convictions.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird handed Bryce Cameron McDonald 40 months in jail and a lifetime ban on possessing firearms.
In April, Baird convicted McDonald, 34, of 12 charges, including careless storage of a firearm, possession of a loaded restricted firearm and storing a firearm contrary to regulations – related to a loaded Boberg handgun found in a dresser drawer at his house when anti-gang police raided it three years ago.
McDonald was also convicted of seven counts of storing other firearms in locations that weren’t authorized by his licence, as well as a single count each of possessing brass knuckles and possessing cocaine.
The B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit executed search warrants at McDonald’s Courtenay house and a storage locker he rented, in December 2013.
Officers found just 19 firearms, both restricted and unrestricted, even though records showed McDonald had purchased 49 restricted guns since getting his licence in the fall of 2009. That meant at least 30 others were missing.
Police began investigating the Vancouver Island man after the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was tipped off to the location of a bag of guns near 76th Avenue in Surrey on Sept. 17, 2013.
“The RCMP located this bag and one of the three firearms inside it was traced back to Mr. McDonald. He had purchased it, the police discovered, sometime in 2011,” Baird noted in his earlier ruling.
CFSEU Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton said Tuesday that the sentence sends a strong message to criminals facing firearms charges.
“Gun crime is extremely serious and deeply affects people’s feeling of personal and community safety. People who commit gun crimes must know that it is completely unacceptable and that they will be held accountable,” Houghton said.
Baird earlier expressed concern over what might have happened to the guns that vanished.
“Frankly, I shudder to think where these firearms are likely to have gone,” Baird said.
He said McDonald’s explanation about the missing guns was “strange and probably sinister.”
Baird rejected McDonald’s testimony at trial that police must have either taken the additional guns during their search and failed to document them or that they left his door unlocked and someone else stole the guns after the police left.
“Mr. McDonald alone knows what really happened to them,” Baird said. “Mr. McDonald’s evidence on this subject is an after-the-fact fabrication.”
At the time of McDonald’s arrest, police said he had affiliations to at least one organized crime group. On Facebook, some of his friends say they are members of the Hells Angels and are wearing colours of the biker gang.
Bryce is facing some new charges laid in recent months, including breaching his bail conditions over the summer, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of theft under $5,000. He is due in court on those charges on Nov. 10.