By Trevor Crawley
Cranbrook Daily Townsman
Devin Kazakoff will not be getting a permanent criminal record for his role in the vandalism of clover traps in Kimberley, however, he will have to pay over $2,700 in fines and restitution.
Handing down his ruling of a conditional discharge and fines on Wednesday morning in Cranbrook Provincial Court, Justice Ron Webb noted that Kazakoff had apologized and taken responsibility for his actions in the vandalism of four deer traps in Kimberley in February 2014. On the same hand, Webb also denounced the act of vandalism and said it was hard to believe that Kazakoff didn’t know his actions constituted a criminal act.
The vandalism was a first time offence for Kazakoff, who was 28 years old at the time.
Kazakoff, who damaged the deer traps along with Lucky Sikora, pleaded guilty to a charge of mischief under $5,000 on Monday, with crown and defence counsel submitting arguments for appropriate sentencing.
Kazakoff, who admitted to being a leader with Sikora as the follower, drove down to Kimberley from Invermere on Feb. 26, 2014 and damaged four clover traps that were located on private property in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, 2014.
Trail cameras watching the traps snapped photographs of the vandalism, while a homeowner, who observed the vandalism, notified conservation officers.
Patrolling the area, a conservation officer observed a man dressed in black wearing a balaclava and carrying a large sack getting into a yellow car. With the help of RCMP, the car was stopped and a police dog tracked the sack, which was discovered buried in the woods and contained clover netting and knives.
Both Kazakoff and Sikora were arrested and charged with mischief.
Sikora had previously pleaded guilty to mischief over $5,000 in September 2014, and was fined $800 and order to pay restitution of $1,000 and a victim surcharge of $240.
Kazakoff, who faced a charge of mischief under $5,000, was ordered to pay $736 to the City of Kimberley for costs incurred post-vandalism, $1,000 in restitution to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and $1,040 in victim surcharges.
While Webb went through the breakdown of the fines, he said the real issue was whether a conditional discharge was appropriate.
“If you damage someone’s property, it is criminal. Full stop. Period,” Webb said.
Webb said he was encouraged by letters of support for Kazakoff, especially the ones from anti-deer cull activists who denounced and condemned the act vandalism of the traps.
Webb said he was also encouraged by Kazakoff’s remorse and willingness to accept responsibility for his actions and his role as leader in the vandalism, even though it could have had an adverse effect in the sentencing.
Kazakoff will be placed on 30-day probation and must pay the fines and restitution within that timeframe.