A rancher has found himself in a legal quagmire after confronting a trespasser who was breaking into his vehicle. And if things go the criminal’s way, the rancher could be forced to pay over $100,000.
According to Drovers, Edouard Maurice, a rural Alberta property owner, is being sued by Ryan Watson, who was shot while attempting to break into Maurice’s vehicle.
Maurice was woken up at 5 am by his dogs. When he got to the front door, he saw was two people rummaging through his vehicle. He grabbed his .22 rifle and confronted them. He ordered them to leave and they refused. Maurice than fired two warning shots into the ground.
At this point, Watson and his accomplice left and Maurice called the police. It took Mounties over two hours to respond and when they did they arrested Maurice. Apparently, one of the bullets ricocheted and struck Watson in the arm.
Maurice was charged with aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm. It took four months and six court appearances before the charges were dropped.
But Maurice’s legal woes are not over. Ryan Watson is now suing him for $100,000 because he has suffered “emotional upset, severe fatigue, and insomnia.” He also claims special damages including loss of income “in an amount to be proven in court.”
Calling it “totally bogus”, Maurice’s wife Jessica said the lawsuit came as a complete surprise to both her and her husband.
“We were just kind of speechless and we are still to an extent,” she said, adding, “how could a criminal even file something like that?”
In response, Maurice has filed a countersuit against Watson.
“Mr. Maurice suffered from mental distress, anxiety, nightmares and a fear of repetition due to the criminal incident,” the counterclaim said. “Given that he lives in a rural community, he continues to worry for the safety of his wife and two infant daughters.”
The prolonged legal battle has taken a toll on Maurice’s finances. Neighbors have set up a fund raiser to help him out. The online fundraiser has collected $57,000 from 655 contributors.