Estranged wife of alleged killer has home vandalized in B.C., man sentenced

PENTICTON, B.C. — The son-in-law of a man killed earlier this year in Penticton, B.C., was sentenced to probation Wednesday for vandalizing the home of accused killer's estranged wife.

Zachary Charles Steele pleaded guilty to one count of mischief and was ordered to serve one year of probation.

The conditions of the 47-year-old man's probation include having no contact with the woman and staying at least 500 metres from her home.

Steele is married to the daughter of Rudi Winter, who lived next door to Kathy Brittain and was one of four people allegedly shot by John Brittain on April 15.

Court heard Steele and his wife were doing yard work outside the Winter residence on June 22 when they noticed Kathy Brittain watching them.

The couple packed up their equipment and went inside the house, but later that evening Kathy Brittain called the RCMP to report Steele had tossed a 3.5-kilogram rock through her front window and a smaller rock through another window.

Planters, lawn ornaments, a mailbox and some eavestrough were also damaged, and she told police Steele had shovelled gravel onto her roof.

"There's no lawful excuse for what he did, but, in the circumstances, I would submit, it's understandable how he took out his frustrations," said defence counsel James Pennington.

Crown counsel Neil Wiberg suggested a suspended sentence of three years' probation.

"It would have been a terrorizing situation for the complainant inside her home seeing this happening," he said. 

Judge Lisa Wyatt said she sympathized with Steele having suffered the "traumatizing and brutal loss" of his father-in-law, but couldn't agree to a conditional discharge.

"This type of retaliatory behaviour cannot be condoned," said Wyatt.

Steele, who declined to speak when given a chance to address the court, was also ordered to pay $500 restitution, which represents Kathy Brittain's insurance deductible.

A preliminary inquiry is scheduled to being in January for John Brittain, who is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. None of the allegations against him has been tested in court. (Penticton Herald)

 

Joe Fries, Penticton Herald, The Canadian Press