Dwight Saunders says coke addiction spurred standoff with police

Dwight Saunders, who was involved in a standoff with police in December, says he was desperate for money because of his addiction to cocaine.
Dwight Saunders, who is charged with careless use of a firearm and breaching a court order not to have weapons, pleaded guilty in provincial court on Friday. (CBC)

A St. John's man involved in a standoff with the RNC in December is blaming the incident on his cocaine addiction.

Dwight Saunders, 27, told a judge on Friday he had a $300-a-day cocaine habit which caused him to lose control.

Saunders said he was so desperate for money that he put a loaded shotgun in his mouth and threatened to kill himself if his mother didn't give him the cash he needed.

"I was off drugs for the last couple of years, but I let my guard down," said Saunders. 

The court was told that instead of giving him money, Saunders' mother left the family home on Thorburn Road and called the police. Saunders put the gun away, and after about two hours gave himself up.

On Friday, he pleaded guilty to charges of careless use of a firearm, as well as breach of a court order not to have weapons.

"I wasn't going to hurt anybody," Saunders said.

But the Crown said he put everyone around him at risk, noting accidents can happen.

Lawyer Jeff Brace. (CBC)
Defence lawyer Jeff Brace didn't hold back.

"I find it incredulous that we are dealing with a man with a shotgun to his head, and we are discussing how much time he should get for trying to kill himself. How bizarre is that?" Brace said.

"There are times when our system has to be compassionate. Maybe it was the taste of metal in his mouth that made him realize he needs a change. I'm not going to put a number on him, but we need to help him get help," he told the court.  

The Crown recommended Saunders be sentenced to six months in jail.

Judge Pamela Goulding will hand down her ruling on Tuesday.