Prince George baker Karl Haus sentenced for 'obsessive' gun collecting
Karl Haus is better known as the owner of Prince George's oldest bakery, the Pastry Chef
A Prince George baker known for his delicious flax buns and fresh loaves of rye was sentenced earlier this week after RCMP seized "an arsenal" of illegal weapons and ammunition from his home.
Karl Haus is better known as the owner of Prince George's oldest bakery, the Pastry Chef, a downtown institution since 1955 that sells German pastries and breads.
But Haus made headlines back in November 2013, after border officers at the International Mail Processing Centre in Toronto intercepted a suspicious package from Germany.
The package turned out to contain prohibited weapons parts, so the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) brought in the RCMP and a joint investigative team was formed.
When RCMP officers arrived to search Haus's Prince George home they uncovered 31,000 rounds of ammunition, several prohibited automatic weapons including a fully automatic M16 and a fully automatic AK 47, three hand guns, two of which were loaded, seven rifles, two morning stars, two shotguns, five 100-round capacity drum magazines, 50 assault rifle magazines, and four bulletproof vests.
RCMP called Haus's weapons collection "staggering" and "incredibly disturbing, and said they feared some of the "military-grade weapons" could have fallen in to criminal hands.
Haus originally faced 17 criminal charges, including two counts of importing a prohibited firearm but later pleaded guilty to six charges, including possessing prohibited or restricted firearms with ammunition and while knowing they were unauthorized.
'Obsessive pursuit of an intriguing hobby'
At the sentencing, Crown prosecutor Geoff McDonald wanted Haus jailed for up to two years, arguing an "arsenal so dangerous required denunciation."
But Haus's lawyer George Leven argued his client was remorseful and had acknowledged his error. He called it "the pursuit of an otherwise harmless hobby that put his client in serious conflict with the law."
Judge Shannon Keyes was not convinced Haus's collection was an "arsenal". Instead she called it "the obsessive pursuit of an intriguing hobby," and noted he had altered magazines and tinkered with prohibited guns not for any nefarious purpose but because he loved historical accuracy.
Still, the judge said it was important to craft a sentence to deter illegal gun ownership and prohibited modifications. Haus knew it was an illegal "thrill," she said.
But Keyes also called Haus an "outstanding citizen" whose bakery business employs 15 people and noted the charges had taken a "dreadful toll" on his community standing, and he was "genuinely remorseful."
In the end on Monday, Keyes sentenced Haus to a six-month conditional sentence, meaning the jail time could be served in the community.
He's allowed to go to work, but Haus has been slapped with travel restrictions, a curfew and ordered to give a DNA sample.
Furthermore, he had to forfeit his entire gun and weapon collection and won't be allowed to own guns again for a decade.
He was also banned from having alcohol, except when adding it to German baked goods.
The judge said gun owners need to be deterred from buying prohibited weapons and if Haus had criminal connections he'd be in jail.
But in this case there was no danger, no damage and no one was harmed, said Keyes.
With files from the CBC's Betsy Trumpener