POLITICS

Sentence delay for former soldier who planned attack on Veterans Affairs office

01/30/2015 01:15 EST | Updated 04/01/2015 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - The lawyer for a former soldier who planned an attack on a Veterans Affairs office is concerned that a sentencing delay will further harm her client's failing health.

Glen Gieschen, a 45-year-old former intelligence officer, had a beef with the department over coverage for multiple sclerosis he believed was caused by a flu shot he received while in the military.

He pleaded guilty in November to possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited weapon and possession of a weapon.

A sentencing hearing was postponed Friday at the request of the Crown, which asked for more time to review Gieschen's psychiatric assessment. He has been in custody for the last year.

Judge Sean Dunnigan granted the delay to Feb. 11, but expressed concern that Gieschen appeared to be in decline physically.

Gieschen appeared frail and used a cane when he entered the courtroom filled with a large number of family and friends.

His lawyer said her client was eager to get the matter dealt with.

"He's willing to accept penalty and he's already turned his mind to that," Tonii Roulston said outside court.

"He thought this would be the final day of it and now he's in a position where he's in a place where, with his medical condition, we're worried that it's not being taken care of properly."

Police recovered firearms, body armour, possible bomb-making materials, schematics of a downtown Calgary skyscraper and a plan to attack the seventh-floor offices of Veterans Affairs during Gieschen's arrest last January.

Gieschen was arrested after his wife called police because she was concerned that he might be suicidal. He was taken to hospital for treatment under the Mental Health Act.

Court documents say Gieschen was in the military from 2008 until he went on long-term disability in 2011.

When he was arrested at his parent's rural home west of Calgary, he was dressed in camouflage pants and was sleeping with a duffel bag near his head.

The bag contained a .40-calibre semi-automatic handgun that was loaded with a full magazine. Police also recovered a .308-calibre rifle, a ballistic range-finder scope for shooting long distances, a laser sight for shooting at close range, night-vision binoculars and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

There was also a laptop that contained notes about the Bantrel Tower and a plan the Crown said was for an attack on Calgary's Veterans Affairs office.

There were also jugs filled with chemicals, empty suitcases with metal linings, 16 black sticks with a protruding fuse, carpenter nails, threaded pipes and six tubes of camouflage face paint.

Police also recovered black gun powder, 16 canisters of bear spray, 25 smoke grenades and a gas mask.

Gieschen has indicated he is remorseful and willing to accept his punishment.

Roulston said he has strong support from friends and family.

"If you ask any one of them this is very out of character."

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