A counterclaim has been filed by an Okotoks area man, who faced gun charges after defending his home, to send the message that convicted criminals shouldn't be allowed to sue their victims.
“The reason is to show that we can’t let criminals re-victimize people again,” said Edouard Maurice. “It’s just not right that a convicted criminal can sue the victim.”
On Feb. 24, 2018, Ryan Randy Watson and a co-accused drove onto the Maurice property south of Okotoks at around 5:40 a.m. and rummaged through the Maurices’ vehicles.
Maurice, who was home with his one-year-old daughter, gave a verbal warning and then fired a warning shot into the ground, which ricocheted and struck Watson in the wrist.
Maurice was charged with gun offences and his court appearances received national attention with hundreds of people supporting his right to defend his home.
All charges against Maurice were dropped.
Watson later pled guilty to mischief and failure to comply with a court order at Okotoks provincial court on Feb. 28, 2019. He was sentenced to 45 days in custody, but was released after receiving credit for time served.
Watson filed a lawsuit against Maurice for $100,000 in September for personal damages.
Maurice said Watson’s suit means that he and his family have to relive the experience.
He has filed a counterclaim of $150,000 against Watson.
Scott Chimuk, Maurice’s lawyer, said the initial suit has no legitimacy.
“We believe (Watson’s) suit is totally without merit,” Chimuk said. "We think it’s an attempt by a criminal to revictimize the victims.
“We think under no shape or form should a convicted criminal be allowed to sue the victims he victimized.”
He added Maurice’s counter suit is not for financial gain.
“To the extent (the Maurices) can be compensated in respect to the tremendous harm to the family isn’t great,” Chimuk said. “We are under no false apprehension that collection is going to be easy here.
“The purpose of the counterclaim is to... set out the legitimate trauma my client has suffered and send a message to criminals that you can’t get away with this — that there’s consequences.”
The counterclaim states Maurice and his family lost their sense of security. As well, Maurice suffered mental distress, anxiety, nightmares and a fear of repetition due to the incident.
His wife Jessica required counselling due to the trauma.
It stated the family continues to suffer from ‘lingering mental stress and anxiety due to the criminal incident.”
Maurice stated he has received tremendous support from the community. A fundrazr page has helped pay for the family’s legal costs. So far, more than $55,000 has been contributed to the page.