Calgary

Injured trespasser suing rural Alberta landowner who fired warning shots

A southern Alberta farmer who faced criminal charges for defending his property from suspected thieves is now being sued by one of the intruders.

$100K civil suit claims Edouard Maurice caused Ryan Watson 'severe damages and disability'

Edouard Maurice, centre, speaks to reporters outside court in April 2018 while holding his daughter Teal as his wife, Jessica, looks on in Okotoks, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

A southern Alberta farmer who faced criminal charges for defending his property from suspected thieves is now being sued by one of the intruders.

Edouard Maurice was accused of shooting a trespasser in February 2018 after he fired off warning shots when he encountered two people rummaging through his vehicles at his property near Okotoks, south of Calgary.

Now Maurice is being sued for $100,000 by Ryan Watson, whose arm was injured and required surgery after the confrontation.

In a statement of claim, Watson — who fled the scene but was quickly arrested after the incident — says he has suffered "emotional upset, severe fatigue and insomnia."

He is also claiming special damages including loss of income "in an amount to be proven at court."

Maurice says he's shocked that Watson is taking him to court.

"It's like the never ending nightmare," he said. "It's stressing out our family again. Now we have to go through basically the whole ordeal again."

None of the claims have been proven in court, and Maurice has not yet filed a statement of defence.

He had faced charges of aggravated assault, pointing a firearm and careless use of a firearm, but the Crown dropped its case against Maurice in June of last year, saying there was no likelihood of conviction.

In February, Watson was given a 45-day sentence for mischief and breaching probation but was released because of time served in pretrial custody.

The case became a flashpoint in the ongoing debate around the issue of rural landowners' rights to defend their property

Dozens of people routinely showed up ahead of court hearings in support of Maurice and his family.

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