Thomas Staples pleads guilty to careless use of firearm

Alberni man is on probation for two years and prohibited from owning a firearm.

Thomas Staples pleads guilty to careless use of firearm

Thomas William Staples, 57, of Port Alberni, has pleaded guilty to careless use of a firearm after shooting another city resident in the leg.

Charges of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm were dropped for Staples.

During a March 15 court hearing in Port Alberni, Crown Counsel said that 47-year-old Claude Boucher was riding his bike near TD Bank on Third Avenue when he heard two loud pops and felt a pain in his leg.

Boucher rode his bike a couple of blocks away to where he felt safe and called the police.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 17 when Staples caught Boucher stealing from his apartment building.

Not long after the incident, Staples was interviewed by the RCMP. He told them that he saw Boucher breaking into his house and leaving with his possessions. Staples then grabbed his gun for safety and “squeezed one off” in hopes to scare Boucher. Staples said he did not intend to hit Boucher and didn’t know he had until the police showed up at his home.

Staples told Crown Counsel that in the last three and a half years he’s experienced several break-ins at his home.

Judge Ted Gouge said he was hesitant to agree to a conditional discharge as proposed by the Crown and defense, given Staples had fired a gun out the window of his Argyle Street home.

Staples, who had no criminal record, will be on probation for two years and is prohibited from owning a firearm for five years.