A North Vancouver man who used his firearms license to buy and sell multiple handguns for another man has been handed an 18-month conditional sentence, including nine months of house arrest.
Jeffrey Jacob Scrutton, 47, was handed the sentence Nov. 29 after pleading guilty in North Vancouver provincial court to two firearms offences stemming from incidents that happened between July and September of 2020.
Both charges involved restricted Glock handguns.
Crown counsel Carey Morgan told the judge Scrutton first came to police attention in August 2020 when staff at a Lower Mainland firearms store advised them of a suspicious purchase of five SKS rifles by Scrutton.
Police investigated and confirmed Scrutton had a valid license to purchase guns.
But on Aug. 28, 2020, a Glock handgun registered to Scrutton was recovered by Saanich police in the execution of a search warrant at a house being conducted as part of a drug investigation. A case for a second Glock handgun was also located at the house, but that firearm was not found.
Police began a significant investigation, said Morgan.
A search of electronic databases showed Scrutton had 15 legally obtained firearms, including multiples of the same types of handguns.
In September of 2020, police discovered Scrutton was in the process of buying another Glock handgun from another gun retailer. Investigators set up a plan to allow the sale to take place, while keeping Scrutton under surveillance, said Morgan.
On Sept. 21, 2020, police watched as Scrutton left his home in North Vancouver, got into a Honda Civic driven by another man, went to the gun store and took possession of the Glock in a plastic gun case.
Scrutton got back into the car, said Morgan, and was driven to an area of West Vancouver near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, where he was observed getting out of the car, going into a house then getting back in the car.
Members of the RCMP’s Lower Mainland emergency response team stopped the vehicle in North Vancouver and arrested Scrutton, the driver and a third man in the car for firearms trafficking. The Glock was also recovered from the car.
In statement to police after his arrest, Scrutton admitted to buying guns and transferring them to the second man – a longtime acquaintance – who would give him lists of what to buy and drive him to the gun store and provide money for the purchases.
Every restricted firearm he bought was transferred to his friend, Scrutton told police.
Scrutton was paid between $100 and $200 for each gun purchase, said Morgan, adding “a handgun on the street sells for as much as ten times that.”
His offences weren’t sophisticated, said Morgan, and were fueled by a need for money to feed his alcohol addiction.
“He operated as a pawn for someone else,” said Morgan.
Defence lawyer David Forsyth said Scrutton had a difficult childhood, suffers from some serious health issues and was struggling with alcohol addiction at the time of the offences.
He has since taken action to deal with his addiction and has expressed remorse, said Forsyth. “He hates to think [the guns] could have been used to hurt innocent people.”
“I feel really bad about what I’ve done,” Scrutton told the judge. “I stress about it every day.”
Morgan told the court Crown and defence had worked out a deal that would allow Scrutton to plead guilty to less serious weapons charges than the gun trafficking he was originally charged with.
In handing down a conditional sentence, Judge Joseph Galati called the charges “very serious” adding that handguns “have no useful purpose other than target shooting or close-range shooting of [people].”
Under the terms of his conditional sentence, Scrutton must abide by house arrest for nine months unless he has written permission of his supervisor. For the last nine months of the sentence, he must obey a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Galati also placed Scrutton on probation for 18 months at the end of his sentence. Scrutton has also been banned from owning guns for 10 years.