CALGARY - A man who a judge says has an "obsession with warfare and weaponry" has been sent to jail for threatening to kill people with a machine gun at the Calgary Stampede last summer.
Patrick Deegan, 29, was sentenced Thursday to two years less a day after admitting in January that he uttered death threats and illegally possessed a firearm.
"We now sadly live in a world where threats like these have to be taken seriously," said provincial court Judge Joanne Durant.
A sinister email Deegan sent to the Calgary Fire Department last spring was "not a fanciful threat," the judge said.
"I do not accept this was an impulsive act."
Durant pointed to terrorist acts such as the 9-11 Twin Towers attack in New York and the bombing at the Boston Marathon last year and said the public can no longer take safety for granted.
Deegan admitted he sent the email from his account to the fire department on May 26, 2013. The email warned there was going to be an attack at the Stampede that July and that there would be many casualties.
"There is going to be a machine-gun attack at the Calgary Stampede this year," the email read.
"Two MG-52s rated at 1800 rpm. There will be over 1,000+ casualties."
Deegan said in the email that the guns could fire off more than 1,000 rounds before malfunctioning.
At the time the email was sent, Deegan was on a 12-month peace bond related to domestic violence. One of the bond’s conditions was that he was not allowed to purchase or possess any sort of firearm.
The email prompted a police investigation that led to the homes and vehicles of Deegan, his girlfriend and his parents.
Court heard police found an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a Lee Enfield bolt-action rifle and a Norinco semi-automatic rifle at the home of Deegan's parent.
Judge Durant pointed to psychiatric evaluations dating back to 2004 pointing to Deegan's obsession with guns, warfare and 9-11 conspiracy theories.
She said his obsession shows "no signs of diminishing" 10 years later and jail was warranted.
"At the time the accused sent the threatening email, he had the present ability to carry out the threat. The words for me were all the more serious and terrifying because there was substance behind them."
Deegan read a tearful statement to the court before his sentencing.
"On the day I dispatched that email I breached the trust of my family and the public. It was something that I am truly sorry for," he said.
"I bear full accountability for these actions as a whole. If I did not do this crime, then I would be living at home with full autonomy. I stand culpable and can no longer bear being a burden to society."
An extra month was tacked onto his sentence because he breached his peace bond. With credit given for nine months he has already spent in custody, his remaining sentence is just under 16 months.
He was also sentenced to three years probation, faces a 10-year prohibition on owning a firearm and is banned for life from having a restricted weapon.
His lawyer had hoped for simple probation but said the sentence was fair. He said his client has had his struggles.
"This particular individual was someone who suffered from a bit of stress. He suffers from (lack of) control with respect to impulsive actions and he was drinking heavily at the time," said Greg Dunn.
"It was something he did that was stupid. It was not thought out. It was something that was impulsive and he's really paid the price for his impetuousness today."
The prosecutor said there is no such thing as an idle threat anymore.
"This wasn't a fanciful threat that should be taken without any skepticism. Those days are over. Any threat of this nature has to be taken quite seriously," said Aurelie Beland.
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