After years of watching his late mom's house destroyed by vandals, an aging Edward Raflant thought he was doing the right thing by catching an 11-year-old boy in the act, putting him in his truck and taking him to the nearest RCMP station.
Credits: STONEWALL ARGUS FILE PHOTO 2008
WINNIPEG -- After years of frustration in trying to clean up after vandals who wrecked his late mother's vacant home, Edward Raflant thought he was doing the right thing by confronting and capturing a young suspect and driving him about 100 metres to the Stonewall RCMP attachment.
Now, the disabled 74-year-old faces being labelled a violent criminal after Mounties instead arrested him for assault and uttering threats against the 11-year-old boy. Raflant has pleaded not guilty.
His case is now headed for a courtroom showdown and could ultimately become a legal landmark regarding what rights regular folks have to use force in defending their property.
Provincial court Judge Rob Finlayson adjourned the trial for Crown and defence lawyers to craft arguments on the weighty rights issues the case raises.
"Whether you call it citizen's arrest or whatever you call it, it's still an issue to me as to how much force he was entitled to use," Finlayson said.
The questions in the case are "very significant" and "quite complicated," the judge said.
Police and the Crown allege Raflant overstepped the law in his dealings with the suspected vandal the evening of June 11, 2011.
The boy, who can't be identified due to a publication ban, admits he and a group of other youths illegally entered a boarded-up home in Stonewall, a town just north of Winnipeg. But, he said, he was "just a follower" and is "too weak" to cause any damage.
The home has a yellow no-trespassing sign over a window in the front.
Spotted as the last one to leave, the boy says Raflant -- whom he didn't know -- threatened to blow his head off. The boy claims he ran away after repeatedly apologizing to the stranger.
But shortly after, the boy said, the man drove up to him at a nearby parking lot and grabbed him by the collar. He said he was tossed into his truck while the man angrily shouted, "Why'd you go in there?"
"He threw me in and I just stayed there. I didn't want to get into any more trouble," the boy said.
The child said he was driven directly to the town's nearby RCMP station and marched to the front door while the man repeatedly jabbed him with a walking cane.
Const. Blair Mompourquette testified he saw Raflant using one hand to hold the crying boy near his collar near the detachment's locked door.
When the cop opened up, he said Raflant pushed the kid towards him, saying: "He's all yours. Here you go."
After a brief and somewhat heated discussion with Raflant, the constable advised him that what he did was illegal, court heard. Cops allowed Raflant to leave to be officially arrested a few weeks later. The boy was given a ride home.
Mompourquette admitted under cross-examination that over the years, there have been "numerous" acts of serious vandalism at Raflant's property, and said he knew Raflant wanted cops to do something when he handed the boy over that night.
But, the cop said, the proper thing for Raflant to do was to call 911 and RCMP would go out and patrol for suspects.
Raflant took the stand on his own behalf and adamantly denied he threatened or laid a hand on the boy.
"The only time we touched is when he was kicking me," he said. "I don't use that cane for a weapon or to poke anybody with. I use it to walk with."
Defence lawyer Wendy Martin White produced photos taken by Raflant's sister of the damage the home has sustained.
Under cross-examination, Raflant admitted the boy appeared terrified at not knowing what he was going to do with him.
The case continues March 19.