Bjorn Sjostrom had to know, or at least suspect, there were guns in his travel trailer when he attempted to enter Canada at the Coutts port of entry two years ago, a Lethbridge judge said Friday.
"At the very least he turned a blind eye," Justice James Langston said in Lethbridge Court of Queen's Bench where he found Sjostrom guilty of 30 weapons-related charges.
"In my view, the accused is not a credible witness."
Langston pointed out Sjostrom lied to border officials about the purpose of his trip when he and a woman arrived at the border at 4:14 a.m. Aug. 1, 2010. He told officials he was going to attend a friend's wedding and he would only be in Canada for two weeks.
During trial this week, the accused admitted he lied to protect the woman who hoped to find work in Canada but didn't have proper permits.
Those lies tainted all of Sjostrom's evidence, Langston said, evidence intended to place the blame for the firearms directly on the accused's wife.
Sjostrom and his wife both testified she had been responsible for removing several guns from the trailer before the accused left for Canada where he was to begin work in Fort McMurray. The family had been at a gun range near their home in Denver a few days earlier, and Sjostrom's wife was to empty the trailer and pack it for husband's trip.
She testified she started removing guns from the trailer, then got distracted and forgot to remove the rest of the guns. When Sjostrom arrived at the border, he told officials he didn't have any guns, but during a search they found 11 guns and ammunition.
Sjostrom was charged with several counts each of unlawful importation of firearms and possession of prohibited and restricted weapons, both of which carry a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum of 10 years in prison, and possession of firearms without a licence, with no minimum sentence but a maximum of five years.
Langston also rejected the wife's testimony which, he said, was obviously biased.
"She gave evidence to protect her husband."
He said it's unreasonable to believe she forgot about the guns knowing her husband was going to Canada, which has much stricter gun laws than the U.S., and it would have been impossible for her not to see the other guns as she packed the trailer for the trip. It's just as unbelievable that Sjostrom didn't give any thought to the guns, especially since they and other firearms - Sjostrom owned about 70 guns in the U.S. - were routinely stored in the trailer.
Langston ordered a pre-sentence report and adjourned sentencing until April 22, 2013, at which time Crown and defence counsels are expected to submit their arguments for sentencing. Calgary Crown prosecutor Frank Polak suggested he will likely seek minimum sentences, and defence lawyer Patrick Fagan indicated he may present a constitutional argument.