Gun owner gets six months for accidental shooting

A Jaffray man was sentenced after his shotgun was improperly stored and handled by youths, which resulted in a tragic fatal accident.

  • May. 5, 2015 5:00 p.m.

A Jaffray man was sentenced to six months in jail to be served in the community in connection with the death of a tragic gun accident that killed a teenaged family friend.

George Phillips was sentenced in Cranbrook Provincial Court on Tuesday morning, as Judge Grant Sheard added other conditions such as a one-year probationary period and a two-year firearms ban as part of his ruling.

Phillips was charged with careless storage of a firearm and storage of a firearm contrary to regulation.

On June 16, 2011, Michael Voth died in a residence in Jaffray from a gunshot wound after friends were handling a shotgun that was not properly secured in a gunsafe.

Sheard delivered his ruling after hearing a joint submission from crown and defence lawyers a few weeks ago.

In March 2011, Phillips’ daughter received a death threat on her cell phone. Due to the distance between Cranbrook and Fernie—the closest RCMP detachments—Phillips loaded a shotgun and left it hidden behind a door and clothes in the bedroom for family protection.

There the shotgun stayed until the incident, when Phillips and his wife were out for the evening, shopping in Cranbrook.

In addition to the shotgun, five other guns were seized by RCMP that were not secured because Phillips had been hand-loading his own shells the day before.

In addressing the Voth family, Sheard noted that Voth’s death and the impact statements from family members are a reminder of the importance of gun safety and the tragic consequences that can result from an improperly stored firearm.

He also added that the sentence is not meant to be a measurement of the value of a human life.