The victim of a break-in at a Merville home on March 14, 2018 offered his late-night intruder a drink when the unwanted guest was thirsty.
Robert Scott also let Richard Daniel Yves Vigneault use his washroom. He asked if the visitor needed help and fetched $40 to give to Vigneault.
None of this prevented Scott from being attacked though.
In fact, according to the reasons for sentencing released Thursday, Vigneault raised a handgun at Scott, who closed his eyes. The gun jammed at first, but then Vigneault fired the gun at Scott’s face. The bullet entered the jaw and made a path through the victim’s head, resting adjacent to the cervical vertebrae.
“It remains there to this day. It is too dangerous to attempt to remove it because of the risk of paralysis,” Justice Robin Baird wrote in his decision.
The attack on Scott was just one of a few incidents for which the accused had been arrested three years ago. These all took place between March 12 and 15, 2018. To start, Vigneault broke into a Courtenay home and stole various items on March 12. The break-in and attack on Scott followed at about 1 a.m. on March 14, with Vigneault fleeing the scene immediately after Scott’s brother called for help.
About five hours later, Vigneault was found inside the garage at another Merville home spray-painting some hockey shoulder pads. He was asked to leave, which he did, though with the pads and a duffel bag. Later that day, a farmer found a bike taken from the Courtenay home, and investigators took a DNA swab from its handlebars.
Around midnight, Vigneault turned up in the basement of a yet another Merville home. The homeowner asked what he was doing, but Vigneault said nothing. He was described as “very drunk” and passed out. He was found to have stolen property, and police were able to arrest him without incident.
Last month in B.C. Supreme Court in Courtenay, Vigneault pleaded guilty to multiple counts. The charges included four counts of break-and-enter, two of firearms possession and single counts of discharging a firearm with intent, aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon. The sentence amounted to 14 years, though with credit for time prior to the sentencing, Vigneault’s time to be served equals nine years and three months.
The judge took into account mitigating and aggravating factors. The accused had several convictions, including assault, but he had never served a sentence of more than 30 days. A psychological report noted addictions and mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. As to why he had a gun, he had said, “I was going to Tofino. The reason I had the gun was to do some hunting or commit suicide.”
Baird referred to the term “home invasion,” but suggested it implies an attack with premeditation or knowledge that people are home at the time of the break-in.
“It could be argued that the break-in to the Scott home was more random than targeted or premeditated. The accused had no idea who lived there, or what kind of people the occupants might be. It is not obvious to me that he entered the house with a fixed intention of doing violence,” the judge wrote.
However, the judge did not accept the accused had any major mental illness contributing to the attack, beyond self-induced intoxication. He also cited the severity of the crime.
“He was armed with an illegal handgun. He used the handgun to commit a life-endangering assault. He caused Mr. Scott serious and permanent injury. These are profoundly aggravating factors,” Baird added.
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