A man who pointed a shotgun at his estranged spouse and her grandmother in Hay River, N.W.T., in 2007 has been handed a 2½-year jail sentence.

Eugene Sabourin, 36, apologized in court in Yellowknife Wednesday before he was sentenced, saying he wished he could apologize to his victims directly and assure them they have nothing to fear from him.

But N.W.T. Supreme Court Justice Virginia Schuler said protecting the public was a priority for her in sentencing Sabourin, who pleaded guilty to four charges, including assault with a weapon and uttering threats.

In victim impact statements read out in court, Sabourin's ex-wife and her grandmother stated that the Oct. 11, 2007, incident left them traumatized and fearing for their safety.

Sabourin was already facing a charge of assaulting his spouse at the time of the incident, when he forced his way into her grandmother's home and followed his spouse into a bedroom, where he pushed and slapped her.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Sabourin found a shotgun in the house and pointed it at the grandmother, saying he would kill her and then her granddaughter.

Both women struggled with Sabourin for the gun. He pulled the trigger, but no one was hit.

Sabourin then twisted his spouse's arm and threatened to break it, then hit her on the head with a hairbrush, according to the statement of facts.

Sabourin's criminal record includes prior convictions for assault with a weapon, robbery and sexual assault.

Schuler gave him credit for time already served in remand, so he has about one year remaining in his sentence.