Inuvik, N.W.T., man given 3-year sentence for violent 2022 home invasion

The Yellowknife courthouse on Sept. 20, 2023. (Luke Carroll/CBC - image credit)

A judge in Yellowknife has sentenced Justin McGee to three years in prison for his part in a violent home invasion that left an elderly couple injured and shaken.

McGee, 29, showed remorse for his actions, telling attendees in the courtroom Thursday he was "working on himself."

Seventy-four-year-old Vince Sharpe — who's since passed away — and his 64-year-old wife, Lena Allen, answered a knock at the door at their Inuvik home just before 6 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2022, according to court documents.

McGee, masked and hooded, pushed his way in and began threatening the couple with a knife. His then-girlfriend waited outside as much of the incident unfolded.

He was heard saying, "Give the cash or I'll kill you" and demanded access to a safe. Sharpe told him he didn't know the code.

Graphic video shown in court

Court attendees were shown graphic video of the incident taken from the couple's home surveillance system.

Allen can be seen attempting to wrestle the knife out of McGee's hand. The two tussle throughout the living room area until Sharpe — who was confined to a wheelchair — reaches into a desk drawer and pulls out an airsoft pistol.

McGee wrestles the pistol out of Sharpe's hand; Sharpe's wheelchair topples over in the process, and McGee then points both weapons at the couple.

McGee then takes three cartons of cigarettes from the couple's kitchen table and leaves the property.

The entire incident lasted about five minutes.

'Still in shock'

Sharpe and Allen were both taken to hospital after the incident where they received treatment for hand lacerations. Allen also had bruises to her hip and chest.

In a victim impact statement filed before his passing, Sharpe described his feelings of helplessness watching from his wheelchair as his wife fought McGee.

Sharpe said he was "still in shock" after living in the home for 52 years. The incident led to him keeping a knife in his desk drawer during the final years of his life.

Allen declined to make a victim impact statement.

Victim was known to attacker

The defence alleged McGee was in the midst of an alcohol and crack-cocaine binge and has no memory of the incident.

Sharpe, who was a well-known businessman in Inuvik, was known to McGee and had given him construction work in previous years.

McGee, who is one of seven children, was described as having a "good" childhood, though lawyers said there were periods of alcohol abuse in the family.

He also spent time in foster care.

Apology to victims

McGee has a long criminal history that includes convictions for assault, break and enter, theft, uttering threats and failing to obey court orders.

The crown proposed a three-year sentence, while the defence proposed a two-year sentence and longer probation period.

The defence classified the incident as a way for McGee to feed his addictions.

McGee apologized to the victims when given the chance to speak.

He'll serve just over 12 months of the three-year sentence with credit for pre-sentence custody. He'll also be subject to a year of probation and a DNA order and will be banned from owning firearms for 10 years.