NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — A legal aid lawyer for a Saskatchewan man charged in a case that sparked an Amber Alert earlier this month says he doesn’t believe the accused would deliberately abduct a child.
Bill Archer told media following 19-year-old Johnathan Ryann Gunville’s court appearance in North Battleford on Monday that he’s dealt with the accused before, and that he has mental health issues.
Archer says he is still learning the details of the case but says if it was Gunville, “he stole a car, not a kid.”
Police have said a six-year-old girl was in a running sport-utility vehicle when it was stolen outside a North Battleford business on Sept. 16.
The SUV with the girl safe inside was found abandoned about 12 hours later in an industrial park.
A bail hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, and Crown prosecutor Chris Browne said in court he was opposed to Gunville’s release.
Gunville is facing charges of abduction, unlawful confinement, abandoning a child, dangerous operation of a vehicle, theft of a vehicle, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000, evading police, driving while disqualified and failing to comply with a probation order.
Some of the charges relate to the Sept. 16 Amber Alert. Gunville is also accused of a pair of vehicle thefts on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20.
Looking fidgety when he made his court appearance, Gunville smiled as he peered out into the courtroom.
Outside court, Gunville’s mother appeared distraught and wiped away tears when she spoke to reporters briefly outside the courthouse.
Tammy Lavallee said her son was in a group home at one point but was evicted.
She said she came to court Monday to find out if it was actually her son facing the charges, and confirmed he is dealing with some addiction issues.