Kidnapper Larry Hugh McClelland received a 10-year prison sentence for his “stupid idea” to abduct and attempt to extort money from Ponoka businessman Blair Vold last year.
He blamed depression and unemployment and was also using marijuana from time to time.
Vold told Ponoka News following McLelland’s court appearance in Wetaskiwin May 23 he was glad to have the incident behind him so he could move in with his life. He knew McClelland would be facing jail time, but the fear of the experience will always be with him. “I’m glad I got away and don’t know what he would have done at the end of the day.”
Vold and his wife were not in court, but members of the family attended to witness McClelland’s sentence.
He has no sympathy for McClelland and the judgment placed on him, but was more concerned for the abductor’s family.
“I have sympathy for his kid and his wife, that’s the sad story.”
McClelland, 50, pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 to kidnapping, extortion and unlawful use of a firearm (handgun).
“He obviously has some difficulties in his life…it’s up to the system, the judge decided,” Vold stated.
On Sept. 15, 2011 was taken by gunpoint outside his home, tied up, a hood put over his head, and then driven to a Lacombe bank.
While McClelland tried to use his victim’s credit card at the bank’s ATM, Vold managed to escape from the vehicle. He bolted to a nearby gas station and called 9-1-1.
He was thankful for the work police did in the case. “I think the RCMP did a great job.”
Defence Lawyer Alex Pringle said McClelland hatched a partial plan to kidnap Vold while pretending to be working in Fort McMurray in August.
McClelland was worried about his lack of savings for his age. He had been out of work for four months and was rejected for the job after failing a drug test.
He was living for a short time in a Ponoka trailer park, unbeknownst to his family.
Pringle said his client, who had worked as a welder on pipeline and scaffolding, was using marijuana to help him sleep and has since realized his insomnia was due to depression.
His lack of employment doubled his depression, his lawyer said.
“Mr. Vold had the misfortune of being one of the few people the accused knew who had money. It was not personal. He thought Mr. Vold could supply the money he desperately needed.”
During the six days following the kidnapping, when McClelland fled Ponoka, Pringle said his client contemplated suicide.
Crown prosecutor Gordon Hatch said the kidnapping, which lasted about one and a half hours, was undoubtedly terrifying for Vold, but McClelland had no coherent plan for extorting money from Vold.
Hatch called it a “hopeless attempt.”
In an apology he read to the court, McClelland said he can’t imagine how helpless Vold felt and he hoped that someday Vold will feel safe.
“I need you to know I would never hurt you,” McClelland said.
“I accept whatever the court feels is a fair punishment.”
McClelland is married with children.
The 10-year sentence, a joint submission from the Crown and defence, was at the lower end of sentences for these crimes.
Justice B.A. Browne agreed with the submission and sentenced McClelland to nine years in prison for kidnapping, a five-year concurrent sentence for extortion, and a one-year consecutive sentence for unlawful use of a firearm. The sentence was reduced by 245 days for time McClelland has spent in custody.
Browne said McClelland was a good man who looked after his family, and perhaps his circumstances offer an explanation for what occurred.
The 90 minutes that Vold was terrorized with continuous threats was both mitigating and aggravating factors in sentencing, she said.
“It’s very clear that Mr. Vold suffered a great deal because of this incident.” Browne said.
By Susan Zielinski and Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye