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Threatening to burn down Northern Alberta daycare nets jail sentence

Westlock man also smashed window at AHS building with a rock
WES provincial court

]A Westlock man who left threatening messages at a local daycare and smashed a window at the Alberta Health Services (AHS) building will have to serve just over two months in jail. 

At Westlock Court of Justice on April 10, Richard Graham Byer pleaded guilty to uttering threats to cause damage, failure to comply with a probation order and mischief causing damage under $5,000. Two other charges were withdrawn. 

Justice Clifton Purvis sentenced Byer to 120 days on the threats charge, 90 days to be served concurrently on the probation charge and 10 days on the mischief charge for 130 days in jail. 

However, because he had been in custody for 37 days, Byer's sentence was reduced by 56 days on an enhanced credit basis, leaving him with 74 days left to serve. 

Byer was also sentenced to a two-year probation order during which time he must have no contact with any employee of the daycare or contact any e-mail address or phone number associated with the daycare. 

As well, a five-prohibition on owning any firearms or explosives was imposed. 

Crown prosecutor Patrician Hankinson said that on Oct. 13, 2023, Byer had left multiple voicemails on the daycare’s answering machine. 

“In these voicemails, the accused stated that he ‘might as well burn down the daycare.’ This was intended as a threat,” Hankinson said. 

At the time, Byer had been subject to an active probation order to keep the peace and be of good behaviour because of a charge of mischief involving the daycare. His phone calls breached that probation order, the Crown indicated. 

Then, on March 10, 2024, Byer threw a rock at the main window of the AHS building in Westlock, smashing the glass to pieces. The damage did not exceed $5,000. 

When asked what Byer’s apparent issue with the daycare was, defence lawyer Kwame Abrefah indicated his client wanted to become a certified food services worker and apparently he had been denied a work opportunity with the daycare that would have advanced his goal. 

“Not getting that opportunity was a source of frustration,” Abrefah said, noting his client has some issues with managing his anger. 

Abrefah noted his client had lost his mother and was living alone, but his father had indicated a desire to reconnect with Byer and get him the support he needs.

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