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Lawsuits dropped in high-profile rural crime case

Last Updated Jan 17, 2020 at 11:03 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – It’s a case that galvanized the rural community in Alberta, bringing up the issue of just how far you can go to protect your property.

Now, the story of Eddie Maurice and the shooting of a trespasser may be coming to an end with his lawyer saying the province’s new laws on trespassing helped to bring this to a close.

“It wasn’t just an issue of protecting his land. It was an issue of protecting his family, acting completely in self-defence to scare off the criminal trespassers,” said Maurice’s lawyer Scott Chimuk.

It has been a long and emotional two years for Maurice. The father of two shot Ryan Watson, a trespasser on his property near Okotoks, while home alone with his 10-month-old baby.

“He was exonerated by the RCMP, by the Crown,” said Chimuk. “Watson was convicted, and he thought that it was game over, but unfortunately for him, it wasn’t game over.”

Last fall, however, Watson sued Maurice for damages with Maurice denying any liability, countering Watson with his own damages.

RELATED: Alberta property owner files counterclaim against intruder he shot

“Anybody can sue anybody for anything in Canada,” said Chimuk. “The issue is whether there are ways to get rid of these (damages) tossed out so that the defendant doesn’t have to incur unnecessary costs, and Bill 27 allowed us to do that so that Eddie and his family can get on with their lives.”

Bill 27 was brought into effect by the province in November to protect property owners like Maurice from being sued if they injure a trespasser on their property. The bill also increases fines against trespassers.

Chimuk hopes his client’s case will encourage others to stand up for their rights.

As for Maurice, Chimuk says his Maurice hopes to put this entire ordeal behind him with his wife encouraging him to take a trip with their children to Disneyland.