By Angela Brown, battlefordsNOW
The suspect in a recent Amber Alert case made his first appearance Monday at North Battleford Provincial Court.
Johnathan Gunville, 19, of North Battleford 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 issued after an SUV was reported stolen from outside a North Battleford strip mall with a six-year-old girl still in the backseat. Gunville is also accused of a pair of vehicle thefts on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20.
The girl was located in the early morning of Sept. 17. She was found safe, still inside the vehicle in a field in North Battleford’s Industrial Park.
Looking fidgety when he made his court appearance, Gunville smiled as he peered out into the courtroom, seeming to be looking for someone.
Crown prosecutor Chris Browne said in court he was opposed to Gunville’s release.
Gunville’s case was adjourned until Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. when a bail hearing is scheduled.
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 previously but was evicted.
She said she came to court Monday to find out if it was actually her son facing the charges.
She confirmed he is dealing with some addictions issues.
Lavallee said if she could see her son now she would “tell him that he has done wrong, and hope he learns from that.”
Legal aid lawyer Bill Archer spoke to media following court. He said he hasn’t yet received information about his client’s charges so he doesn’t know what the strength of the evidence is at this point.
“From the little that I have heard about it I really suspect we are going to have a really difficult time, ” Archer said. “If it was him, he stole a car, not a kid. That’s what it comes down to.”
“It’s got a lot of attention because of the circumstances,” Archer added, saying he’s represented Gunville in the past and he didn’t believe he’d ever deliberately abduct a child.
“I’ve dealt with Johnny before. He has got some mental health issues. Knowing the kid from before, he wasn’t stealing any kid… He didn’t realize a child was in (the vehicle) until such time as he was already in the car, if it was him. I don’t know if that evidence is there either. We’ll see. I’ll have a better idea by tomorrow.”
The allegations against the accused have not been proven in court.