Sentencing reserved for man charged in Sask. Amber Alert case

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WATCH: A judge will decide on Feb. 20 how much time Johnathan Gunville should spend in jail after pleading guilty to Amber Alert related charges in Saskatchewan. Meaghan Craig with the details – Jan 9, 2019

A Saskatchewan man who pleaded guilty to Amber Alert related charges will wait a while longer to find out his sentence.

A judge reserved his decision Wednesday after hearing arguments on how much time Johnathan Gunville should serve.

Gunville pleaded guilty in October 2018 to abandoning a child, vehicle theft, operation of a vehicle dangerous to the public, and driving while disqualified.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan man pleads guilty to some charges related to Amber Alert

An Amber Alert was issued on Sept. 16, 2018, after an SUV with a six-year-old child inside was stolen late in the afternoon from outside a strip mall in North Battleford.

The girl has epilepsy and autism, and required medication every 12 hours, otherwise she could go into medical distress or even die.

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During sentencing arguments on Wednesday, court heard the child’s mother left the SUV running while she went into a store.

She said her daughter was secure in her car seat, watching a tablet, and had last taken her mediation at 8 a.m.

The mother immediately called 911 as soon as she realized the SUV had been stolen.

The SUV was found the following morning in some brush in the city’s industrial area.

WATCH BELOW: Coverage of the Amber Alert case in North Battleford, Sask.

The mother, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, read her victim impact statement to the court.

“It is difficult to put into words … the level of fear our family experienced the evening of Sept. 16,” she said.

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“She will never be able to tell us about those 16 hours.”

The mother said she is thankful her daughter was found unharmed, but still has sleepless nights.

“Time heals, but there is no doubt the impact will be lasting,” she said.

READ MORE: Man charged in Sask. Amber Alert expected to enter plea at next court appearance

The man who found the vehicle said he feared the worse, but found the girl inside cold and wearing only a T-shirt and pants.

Gunville admitted to stealing the SUV and knowing the girl was inside when he left it abandoned.

The Crown said Gunville has major cognitive issues, suffers from depression, takes medication, uses drugs like meth, and is at high-risk to re-offend.

Spending time in a federal institution would allow Gunville to receive addictions programming and interventions that could help him, the Crown argued, asking for a three-year sentence.

READ MORE: North Battleford man facing charges after Amber Alert issued for 6-year-old girl

Bill Archer, Gunville’s lawyer, argued for an 18-month to two-year sentence to be served at a provincial facility.

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Archer said a portion, if not all of the sentence, should be served at the Saskatchewan Hospital, and said Gunville has the mental capacity of a six-year-old.

“They would eat him alive,” Archer said about his client serving time at a federal institution.

The judge will make a sentencing decision on Feb. 20.

With files from Meaghan Craig.

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