Sarnia man blasted for carelessly storing historic family shotgun

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An old shotgun that’s been in his family for generations led to a pair of criminal convictions for a 64-year-old man Sarnia after police raided his home last fall.

Joseph Calver pleaded guilty Monday to careless storage of a firearm and possession of a firearm without a licence in connection to a Nov. 12 drug bust. The city police’s vice unit found the weapon underneath a dresser in the bedroom of his Exmouth Street home after Calver told them about the gun.

“That was foolish, but I didn’t know where to put it. I found it in the attic,” Calver told a Sarnia judge. “I was going to get a licence, but then COVID hit and I couldn’t get it.”

Calver added the gun was handed down to him after his brother died.

Assistant Crown attorney Aniko Coughlan said it was “concerning” the firearm was found during a drug raid, but conceded it was an “historic family gun” that had been in the house for “decades.”

But it won’t be any longer, as Justice Anne McFadyen ordered Calver to forfeit the weapon.

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He was also convicted Monday of drug possession – but not trafficking as police initially said – after officers found various Suboxone pills in a safe in his room that Thursday night. The pills can help prevent painful withdrawal symptoms caused by an opioid addiction, according to a website.

Defence lawyer Terry Brandon said her client suffered a “very serious” workplace injury more than 35 years ago – he needed back surgery – and still has some “serious” issues.

But he didn’t have a prescription for the pills police found. Assistant federal prosecutor Brian Higgins said it’s “quite a serious substance,” but the amount seized was “equitable” with simple possession and not trafficking.

“There were a number of different strength of pills, but they were all low strength,” Higgins said.

Police seized almost $9,000 in illegal drugs – mostly cocaine but also some fentanyl and meth – but it was attributed to other people arrested in Calver’s home that day. A 31-year-old Sarnia man who rented a room from Calver was previously convicted of trafficking and is serving a prison sentence, Higgins said.

Along with losing the shotgun, Calver, who now lives in Stratford, was sentenced to the eight days he spent in jail after his initial arrest, two years of probation,and a $1,000 fine. The probation order prevents him from contacting the other four people arrested that day and recommends “pain-management” counselling. He’s also banned from weapons for the next 10 years.

All other charges laid against him were withdrawn.

@ObserverTerry

tbridge@postmedia.com

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