A man who elicited sympathy from dozens of community members, including a New Brunswick village mayor, for his act of vigilante justice, has been sentenced to serve 18 months in jail.
Billy McGillicuddy was sentenced in Fredericton provincial court on Monday in connection to his June 4 charges of unlawfully confining Blake Scott, and assaulting him with a baseball bat and chair in McAdam, located about 75 kilometres southwest of Fredericton.
The sentence has handed down by Leslie Jackson, a provincial court judge, who agreed to a joint sentencing recommendation by T.J. Burke, McGillicuddy's lawyer, and Crown prosecutor Darlene Blunston.
"Obviously this is a case where the accused was sort of taking justice into his own hands and dealing with matters in his own way, and that obviously has to be deterred and denounced," Blunston said.
"Given these circumstances and the accused's participation, the Crown believes a fair sentence for the total of all offences would be 18 months."
The charges include two summary offences of possession of a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence and of assaulting Blake Scott with a baseball bat.
The other two charges were indictable offences of assaulting Scott with a chair and unlawfully confining him.
Two firearms charges McGillicuddy was earlier facing were withdrawn.
In recognition of the time he's already spent on remand, 245 days will be subtracted from the 18-month sentence.
Once released, McGillicuddy will be on probation and barred from contacting or approaching Scott for a year.
McGillicuddy will also be prohibited from owning any firearms for 10 years upon his release.
McGillicuddy lives in St. Croix, but his arrest and criminal charges drew supporters from nearby McAdam to his court appearances, including Mayor Ken Stannix, who on June 6 said he "wanted to support the individuals who allegedly took the law into their own hands."
Stannix said people in his village were getting frustrated with a rise in property crime, adding that "the criminals are getting away with everything."
McGillicuddy appeared in court Monday via video call, and four people, including his common-law partner and mother, were in the gallery for his sentencing.
Agreed upon facts
Before sentencing, the court heard the facts, which were agreed upon by both the Crown and defence.
The two summary offences stemmed from the afternoon of June 4, when McGillicuddy approached Scott at a friend's house and hit him in the leg with a metal baseball bat, Blunston said.
Scott called the RCMP to report the assault and showed officers the redness and swelling it caused on the back of his left leg.
Blunston said Scott also told them McGillicuddy had accused him of looking at his 11-year-old daughter while she was walking through a tunnel along a walking trail in McAdam.
Scott told police he had been in the tunnel earlier and that he nodded to someone as they walked by, but that it was only to be polite. Scott thought nothing of the interaction, Blunston said.
The two indictable offences stem from events that happened later that evening.
According to Blunston, after the first assault, Scott sent a text message to Dwain Gardner, a mutual associate of his and McGillicuddy's, to try to "clear his name" and settle the dispute.
Blunston said Gardner invited Scott to his home in McAdam that evening.
The two met in the garage, where Scott was asked to sit in a chair, followed by Gardner picking up a sawed-off shotgun and pointing it at him.
McGillicuddy then arrived in his truck and entered the garage, where he struck Scott in the back and the side of the head, and then threw him to the ground and kneed and kicked him.
McGillicuddy then used the same chair to hit Scott twice, Blunston said.
Following a scuffle between the two men, McGillicuddy instructed Scott to strip naked and get into his truck parked outside.
Scott then ran away from the home, while still naked, and was let into a neighbour's house, where he called police.
RCMP officers showed up and took pictures of Scott's injuries, which included red marks under his arm, chest, elbow, and cuts and abrasions to his knees.
McGillicuddy fled the scene, but was arrested the day after.
McGillicuddy says he's not a vigilante
Before the sentence was delivered, McGillicuddy told the court his daughter was still traumatized by the encounter she had with Scott in the tunnel earlier this year.
He also said McAdam has changed from being the safe community he grew up in, to one where his daughters have to look over their shoulders when walking around the village.
"Yes, I do acknowledge that my actions were out of line and I do take responsibility for that, but throughout this whole case I've been made out to be a vigilante and that is simply not the case," McGillicuddy said.
"I'm a father that loves my children, and I love my community, and I just want to be with my family."