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Girl was not harmed: Saskatchewan man gets jail time for Amber Alert joy ride

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — A Saskatchewan man who triggered an Amber Alert when he stole a running SUV with a disabled girl in the back seat has been sentenced to 31 months in jail.

Johnathan Gunville had pleaded guilty to several charges, including theft of a vehicle and abandoning a child.

With credit for time served, Gunville still has two years less a day remaining in his sentence.

The six-year-old girl had been left in the back of her parents’ Mercedes when Gunville stole it last September from outside a North Battleford, Sask., strip mall.

The girl, who is autistic, epileptic and non-verbal, was found unharmed 14 hours later, still in the SUV, a few kilometres away.

Court heard that Gunville, who was 19 at the time, has an intellectual disability and didn’t know the girl was in the vehicle when he took it for a joy ride.

Provincial court Judge Bruce Bauer recommended that Gunville complete addictions programming, see a psychiatrist and serve time at the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford.

Gunville also received three years of probation once he is released and faces a five-year driving ban.

Outside court, defence lawyer Bill Archer said it was a sad case.

“There were two kids inside the car that day,” he said Wednesday. “He is a six- or eight-year-old trapped in a 20-year-old body.”

The Crown, citing public safety concerns, recommended that Gunville serve three years at a federal penitentiary.


The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Gunville was sentenced to two years less a day.

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