An Alberta farmer who shot a man stealing his ATV three years ago will not spend any time behind bars.

Brian Knight was sentenced to 90 days last October after he pleaded guilty to criminal negligence. But he successfully appealed that decision.

On Friday the Alberta Court of Appeal granted Brian Knight a suspended sentence.

His original sentence was replaced with three months probation and 50 hours of community service.

In the early morning of March 26, 2009, Knight found three men in his farmyard near Tees, about 40 kilometres northeast of Red Deer.

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Brian Knight, shown outside the Stettler courthouse with his wife in 2009, will not go to jail for shooting a thief. (CBC)

He jumped out of bed and chased a man who was riding away on his all-terrain vehicle. Knight rammed the ATV with his car and, when the man took off on foot, Knight pulled out a shotgun, firing two rounds at him.

The culprit was eventually found with non-life-threatening injuries after Knight called friends and family to help look for him.

The three appeal court justices ruled Knight was entitled to apprehend the person who was stealing from him.

"Knight's culpability arises not from his attempt to apprehend the thief, but rather from his reckless use of a firearm to achieve that purpose," the justices said.

The justices took issue with the characterization of Knight as a vigilante.

They said his degree of responsibility should be measured against the speed of events, the fact that he was awakened in the middle of the night without warning, and the absence of any proof that Knight intended to do serious harm to Groening.