Man at centre of standoff pleads guilty

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Dwight Saunders to be sentenced next week

A St. John’s man who was at the centre of a standoff with police last month will be sentenced next week.

Dwight Jonathan Saunders pleaded guilty to four charges Friday in provincial court in St. John’s — possessing a firearm (a shotgun) while prohibited from doing so and carelessly using a firearm, along with fraud and breach of probation.

The 27-year-old was arrested Dec. 9. RNC officers had responded to a report that Saunders had barricaded himself inside a house on Thorburn Road with a gun and was threatening to kill himself.

Several homeowners in the immediate area were evacuated and a portion of Thorburn Road was closed at the time.

RNC crisis negotiators had established communication with Saunders, who had a 12-gauge shotgun. After two hours, Saunders was safely removed from the house and taken into custody.

Judge Pam Goulding is expected to render her decision on sentencing Tuesday.

Saunders is no stranger to the courts.

He has several convictions on his lengthy criminal record, including assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, break and enters, mischief, theft, assaults, uttering threats, possessing drugs, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, failing to comply with a sentence and several breaches of court orders.

However, the most notable court case happened more than three years ago.

In May 2010, Saunders was given a 14-month jail term for sexually assaulting a woman with a disability and stealing her computer.

As part of his sentence, Saunders had his name listed on the national sex offenders registry for 20 years.

He was found guilty of sexual assault and theft under $5,000 by a jury in April 2010 following a two-week trial at Newfoundland Supreme Court.

Saunders’ conviction stemmed from a November 2008 party, during which the 19-year-old woman was assaulted at her apartment.

She has mitrochondrial disease, a neuromuscular disorder that affects speech, sight, hearing, motor skills and balance. Because of her speech difficulties, she had to testify at the trial using a computer.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelyCourt

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Thorburn Road, Newfoundland

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