New Brunswick

Sussex man earns prison time for handgun theft

A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing seven handguns from a fish-and-game store in Sussex last month.

A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for stealing seven handguns from a fish-and-game store in Sussex last month.

Joseph Shortridge, who had no prior criminal record, changed his plea to guilty of break and enter and theft.

He also changed his plea to guilty of four other charges, including possession of a stolen Sears Club card, stealing a  jacket from Market Square and failing to appear in court.

Shortridge told the court he wasn't thinking straight on May 27 after a night of drinking.

He also said he had "made a mistake" when he smashed the front window and display case at Sussex Outfitters, stole seven handguns and fled on a bicycle.

He said when he woke up the next morning, he realized what he had done. Shortridge said he even considered returning the weapons.

The RCMP recovered all of the guns, including five .22-calibre semi-automatic guns, a .9-mm Beretta and a .44 Magnum revolver, when they searched the room where Shortridge had been boarding.

The guns were in a dresser drawer and all of the trigger locks had been removed.

Patrick Wilbur, the Crown prosecutor, told the court when Shortridge was arrested, he told police he had planned to sell the guns.

Wilbur said they would have sold quickly, being the "prime" weapons of the street drug trade.

Provincial Court Judge William McCarroll agreed he had to send a strong message to anyone considering stealing that the "very last thing in the world" they should take are firearms.