A Chilliwack man who pleaded guilty to possessing a modified handgun will have to wait to hear his sentence after a full day of sentencing submissions by Crown and defence left B.C. Provincial court Judge Peter Whyte with no time to deliver a verdict.
Tyler Joshua Priebe, 28, appeared in the prisoner’s box at the Chilliwack Law Courts Tuesday (Feb. 14), hoping to hear a decision on two offences from 2020. Crown is seeking five years on two counts of possessing a restricted firearm, while defence says the 43 months Priebe has already served is sufficient.
Whyte adjourned the matter to a later date, saying he needs more time to think.
Both of Priebe’s offences involved a semi-automatic Glock handgun that was altered to be fully automatic.
Crown prosecutor Aaron Burns said that Priebe moved to B.C. from Nova Scotia in the summer of 2020 and started hanging out with a man named Jordan Cole Burt. On Sept. 7, 2020 they met with two men in the parking lot of Chilliwack’s McCammon Elementary, intending to pick up a rented U-Haul van. Priebe knew one of the men, and according to Burns, had some bad blood with him from two years prior.
During a confrontation that followed inside a car, Priebe pulled out the gun, threatened to shoot the man and hit him in the head with the butt of the gun.
That was the first incident. The second was Priebe’s arrest by the RCMP Serious Crime Unit on Sept. 24, 2020 in Kelowna. He had a bag that contained the gun, which was loaded with a nine millimetre magazine.
During his sentencing submission, Burns showed the court a cellphone video from Sept. 16, 2020 of Priebe firing the gun for just a second or two on a forest service road off Chilliwack Lake Road. When police visited that site they found 21 shell casings. Burns also showed the court text messages from Sept. 16 and 17, 2020 between Priebe and someone who he hoped could provide a bag he could wear to hide the gun.
Priebe has been in custody since his arrest, credited with 1,308 days or approximately 43 months served. Burns asked Whyte to tack on another 17 months. He argued there were aggravating factors making Priebe’s crimes more serious, including the fact that he had a loaded restricted firearm with him outside of an elementary school.
Defence lawyer David Ferguson asked the judge to release Priebe, saying the time he’s already served is appropriate for the crimes. Ferguson said his client has had a rough go of it at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre. He has been the victim of three assaults, two stabbings and a ‘hot honey’ attack where honey was heated up and applied to his skin.
Those incidents, Ferguson suggested, are enough of a deterrent where his client will never want to return to custody.
Both sides agreed that there are significant ‘Gladue’ factors with Priebe, meaning his Indigenous background should play a role in sentencing. While details weren’t read into the record, the Gladue report painted the picture of a very difficult upbringing, with Ferguson saying it’s a credit to Priebe that he’s gotten this far with no criminal record.
The lawyer added that Priebe has accepted responsibility with his guilty plea and has done well with rehabilitation while in custody, getting his Grade 12 Dogwood certificate and re-connecting with his Indigenous culture. He presented Whyte with several letters from friends and family describing Priebe as a changed man who has experienced a wakeup call.
Whenever he is released, Priebe plans to move back to Nova Scotia where his father and stepmother live, and he has a job with a drywall company waiting for him.