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Oliver arsonist sentenced to another 3.5 years jail for firearms crimes

Steven Marlo Gallagher is currently serving 2 years for the arson
Steven Gallagher, 31, will spend another 3.5 years in jail for firearms crimes on top of his previous two-year sentence for arson. (RCMP)

A man serving a two-year sentence for setting fire to an Oliver pharmacy will spend another three and a half years after it’s finished for firearms crimes.

Steven Marlo Gallagher appeared with family and supporters from of the Osoyoos Indian Band in Penticton Provincial Court on Feb. 28 to hear the judge’s decision.

Gallagher had previously been found guilty at trial for the charges of possession of a firearm while under a firearm ban, the careless use or storage of a firearm, occupying a vehicle with a firearm present, and possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm.

The charges stem from an incident on April 4, 2021 where Gallagher was arrested in a vehicle following reports of shots being fired on Penticton Indian Band land.

When police eventually stopped the vehicle, four people including Gallagher were arrested. Multiple firearms, including multiple pistols and a rifle, and ammunition cases were found in the vehicle, as well as a bottle of vodka that Gallagher admitted he was drinking from.

At the time, Gallagher was under a 10-year firearm ban for a previous firearms conviction for carrying a concealed and prohibited weapon, a sawed-off shotgun, in 2013.

Crown prosecution sought to have Gallagher receive a total of five years in jail, which would be served after his current sentence finishes.

Defence sought a 30-month sentence that would be served at the same time as the arson sentence.

The arson incident happened just six weeks after Gallagher’s arrest with the firearms, and while he was on judicial interim release.

READ MORE: Sentencing put over for Oliver arsonist’s firearm case

The judge noted the proliferation of handguns in Canada is one of concern, and said that unlike a rifle, a handgun is not a weapon intended for hunting.

The fact that it would be his second firearms conviction was also noted as an aggravating factor for sentencing.

When it came to mitigating factors, the judge noted that the matter had been settled at trial without a guilty plea, and that his behaviour after being arrested had not done him any favours.

“Mitigating factors in this case are somewhat limited,” the judge noted. “An expression of remorse is a mitigating factor, but Mr. Gallagher is not remorseful instead, he appears to justify his offense and normalize his behaviour.

“If Mr Gallagher had demonstrated a change in his behavior after his arrest and had no further criminal involvement, that would have been a mitigating factor, but instead, he went out six weeks after this offense and committed arson.”

The judge also noted that although he hadn’t been charged for it, he was still found guilty in the other case of shooting up a police car the night of the arson.

“Clearly, neither Mr. Gallagher’s existing prohibition order nor the conditions under which he was released which prohibited him from the possession of firearms restrained his subsequent behaviour in any way.”

The judge noted that Gallagher has the support of members of the Osoyoos Indian Band, that he has started taking programs and counselling since being incarcerated, and that he has three young children who his family are concerned will forget what he looks like if he spends too long in prison.

Gallagher still has a separate criminal case relating to a shooting on Canada Day in Osoyoos in 2022 in which he is awaiting trial.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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