A man was sentenced to eight years in prison for a crime spree that went from Onion Lake to Lloydminster and then to North Battleford.
Garth Swiftwolfe, 24, appeared by CCTV in Lloydminster Provincial Court April 29.
North Battleford Crown prosecutor Oryn Holm told the court that on Jan. 31, 2021, Swiftwolfe and another man shot the door before kicking it open during a home invasion on Onion Lake Cree Nation. Swiftwolfe pointed a shotgun at one of the residents. The man was on the ground and while Swiftwolfe and his co-accused assaulted the man his co-accused said, “Where’s my money?”
The man being assaulted was a hunter and recognized that the gun was a 410 shotgun, said Holm.
When Onion Lake RCMP arrived they saw a hole in the back door from the shotgun blast and found blood in the house. At the time, Swiftwolfe was on a firearms prohibition.
The court heard that one of the occupants in the house who witnessed the event sent a message through social media to Swiftwolfe asking him why this happened and Swiftwolfe said “retaliation” for an assault that the victim was involved with prior.
Prosecutor Holm said the accused returned to Lloydminster where he was staying with his girlfriend. Later that morning they were going to go to Saskatoon but an argument between the two followed over his girlfriend being at Tim Hortons and Swiftwolfe ended up taking car keys belonging to someone else and stole a vehicle.
The next day, on Feb. 1, 2021, Battlefords RCMP received a call at 8 a.m. that shots were fired at a house. Police attended but didn’t find any evidence the house was shot at. Holm said it isn’t clear whether shots were fired or not.
The police investigation led officers to an abandoned car and inside it they found a 410 shotgun and spent casings.
RCMP obtained video surveillance and tracked the suspects. This led them to arrest Swiftwolfe the same day in North Battleford at an apartment building. Swiftwolfe admitted to police that the 410 shotgun in the vehicle was his.
Holm told the court that the incident in Onion Lake met the definition of a home invasion and said people should feel safe in their homes.
He told the court that the Crown and defence were entering a joint submission that would see Swiftwolfe sentenced to eight years in prison.
Swiftwolfe’s defence lawyer said he had a difficult childhood and bounced around from family to family within his extended family and one home where he stayed mostly wasn’t a functional home. As a child he witnessed a home invasion where guns were involved and those breaking into the home had fingers cut off, and this incident traumatized him. Swiftwolfe’s lawyer said his home was invaded and a gun was held at the head of three small children and he retaliated by doing the home invasion in Onion Lake Jan. 31, 2021. He got very inebriated and over two days made some really bad choices, she said.
Judge Kim Young said he would go along with the joint submission.
“It baffles me with 17 convictions and yet on Jan. 31 you thought you could get away with this one,” said Judge Young. “Certainly the only question was how much penitentiary time you were going to do by doing a home invasion.
“Despite doing well in school, passing Grade 12 with distinction, you couldn’t connect the dots on Jan 31, or alternately, you were quite prepared to do penitentiary time for the home invasion. It was one of the two.
“You weren’t thinking of the other people in your life very much, your children and others because that was going to put you away for a long period of time and yet you chose to proceed and do what you did on Jan 31,” added Judge Young. “It makes no sense to me but it obviously made some sense to you on Jan. 31 otherwise you wouldn’t have done that.”