Accused in Amber Alert will receive sentence in February

By Angela Brown
January 9, 2019 - 11:40am Updated: January 9, 2019 - 5:30pm

The man charged in connection to September's Amber Alert in North Battleford will learn his sentence in February, as the judge wants more time to craft a decision. 

Johnathan Ryann Gunville, 19, had entered guilty pleas on Oct. 25 to charges of abandoning a child, theft of a vehicle, operation of a vehicle dangerous to the public, and driving while disqualified.  

Other charges, including abduction and unlawful confinement related to the incident, will be spoken to at the conclusion of the case.

When he appeared in court in person, Gunville pleaded guilty to two assault charges related to two separate incidents from his time in corrections.

The court heard the family's victim impact statement read by the mother of the girl who was abducted. The family were overwrought with worry about their daughter before she was found about 14 hours later. The girl needed to take medication to avoid seizures.  

RCMP issued an Amber Alert on Sept. 16 when an SUV with a six-year-old girl inside was stolen from a North Battleford strip mall parking lot at about 5 p.m. The vehicle was found early the next morning in the brush in North Battleford Industrial Park with the girl inside it. 

Gunville's defence lawyer Bill Archer had previously requested a pre-sentence report for the case. Archer recommended a sentence of 18 months to two years in a provincial corrections facility for his client. He suggested Gunville be sent to the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford's secure unit.

Archer said Gunville expressed remorse to the victim's family and said Gunville is glad the little girl was okay. 

Gunville didn't see the girl in the vehicle when he stole it, Archer said, and was only planning to take the car on a joy ride. He said his client was "in panic mode" after discovering the girl in the back seat before deciding to abandon the vehicle with the girl inside. Archer said Gunville is low functioning intellectually, which is a challenge.  

Crown Prosecutor Lee Hnatiuk recommended Gunville serve three years in custody at a federal penitentiary instead, saying he is concerned about public safety.  

Judge Bruce Bauer said Gunville is facing "very serious" charges, including leaving a child alone in a vehicle overnight.

Hnatiuk agreed, saying "it's not an easy case." 

Outside the courthouse, Archer said he would be concerned about Gunville's safety if he is sent to a federal penitentiary.

Hnatiuk said he hopes for the court to consider the need for deterrence in the case. He said a fitness hearing was previously held and Gunville was found fit to stand trial. 


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