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Two make plea in Coutts case, freed from jail

Posted on February 15, 2024 by admin

By Delon Shurtz
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Two of four men charged with conspiring to murder RCMP officers during the 2022 Coutts border protest of COVID-19 health measures, have pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Christopher Lysak pleaded guilty Feb. 6 in Lethbridge court of justice to a single charge of possession of a weapon in an unauthorized place, while Jerry Morin pleaded to a charge of conspiracy to traffic firearms.

Lysak received a three-year prison sentence, but was released after he was credited for the equivalent amount of time he’s already spent in remand custody since his arrest. 

He received a 10-year weapon prohibition and was ordered to provide DNA, and he must forfeit a handgun to the Crown and transfer other firearms to another firearms owner with a valid Possession and Acquisition license (PAL).

“Mr. Lysak maintains his innocence regarding all the charges he faced,” Lysak’s lawyer, Daniel Song, said in a prepared statement.

“However, he pleaded guilty this morning before Justice Hartigan to possessing his licensed and registered handgun in a place that was not authorized.”

Song pointed out that the offence to which Lysak pleaded guilty was not in the original indictment, and at the conclusion of sentencing, all charges in the indictment were withdrawn. 

“To be clear, Mr. Lysak did not admit to possessing his handgun for a dangerous purpose. He did not attend the Coutts protests with the intent to harm anyone. He admits that his firearm was loaded with ammunition at the time of police seizure, but denies having loaded and chambered the gun.”

Song, who was retained to represent Lysak in late November 2023, said it’s unfortunate his client had been denied bail and served two years of actual custody before the Crown and defence presented a joint sentencing recommendation to the judge.

“Mr. Lysak will be released today and return home. He looks forward to rebuilding and moving on with his life with his family.”

Morin received a sentence of just under three-and-a-half years, which was also satisfied by time already served in remand custody, as well as additional time spent in segregation. 

He also received a 10-year weapons prohibition and was ordered to provide DNA, and he must transfer firearms to another firearms owner with a valid PAL.

“Mr. Morin has steadfastly maintained from the very beginning that he played no part of any alleged conspiracy to murder police officers and is relieved and grateful that those charges, and associated allegations, have been withdrawn by the Crown,” Calgary lawyer Greg Dunn said in a statement. “Moreover the charge that Mr. Morin pled guilty to does not suggest that Mr. Morin at any time took firearms into Coutts, only that he agreed to.”

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Morin has spent two years of his life in custody awaiting this day. That being said, now that this day is upon him he looks forward to seeing his family and moving on with his life.”

Two other accused, Anthony Olienick and Chris Carbert, were also denied bail after their arrests and remain in custody on conspiracy to commit murder charges. The jury trial is set for May 27.

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