Former Oshawa, Ont., councillor Robert Lutczyk has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for the 2012 violent kidnapping of the city’s solicitor, David Potts.
Lutczyk, who has been in custody since the incident Oct. 16, 2012, was sentenced Friday at the Durham Region Courthouse before Justice Alexander Sosna. With credit for time already spent in jail since his arrest, Lutczyk has three years and four months left to serve.
Potts, who has refrained from speaking to the media throughout the legal proceedings, spoke briefly outside the courtroom in Oshawa after sentencing on Friday. With his wife, parents, and two of his four children by his side, he said he accepted the outcome.
“I really do feel that justice was served. I commend both counsel for their excellent work,” Potts said.
He then shook hands with defence counsel Chris Murphy before leaving the courthouse. Murphy took the case back in September and was instrumental in getting Lutczyk to enter the guilty plea after several years of the accused representing himself in court.
The case has been a long and tumultuous one for the Potts family as they endured countless court delays, including pre-trial motions that dragged on for six months as Lutczyk argued his charges ought to be dismissed because of his treatment in jail.
When asked how he felt about the ordeal being over, Potts simply said it was “back to the office” for him.
“It’s over. It was over three-and-a-half years ago,” he said.
Three-and-a-half-years ago, Potts was back in the office the very next day after being held hostage at gunpoint by Lutcyzk for three hours, at one point chained to the floor of the SUV into which he was forced, and then later held in an industrial unit filled with explosives and an arsenal that included a Russian anti-tank rifle, 1,732 rounds of ammunition, material for a pipe bomb, and other explosives.
Potts said he and his family accepts the apology Lutcyzk made during sentencing submissions Feb. 4, in which he said he was sorry for the “ordeal” and pain caused to the Potts family.
Sosna had initially suggested on Friday he was considering a 10-year sentence for Lutczyk with five years’ credit for time served based on a formula of 1.5 days for each day he has already spent in jail. The Crown had originally submitted Lutczyk should be eligible for two days for each day served.
After some last-minute arguments put forward by defence counsel Murphy, who argued that 10 years was beyond pre-trial discussions with the Crown, Sosna reconsidered, offering a nine-year sentence. Murphy noted the initial discussions were what had led Lutczyk to enter his guilty plea in December.
Sosna agreed to a final joint submission of eight years and four months from Murphy and Crown counsel Ngai On Young, with agreement on 1.5 days for each day served. He said he found no legal reference for him to grant the 2-for-1 credit formula.
On Dec. 1, 2015, after three years of legal wrangling following the kidnapping, Lutczyk, 48, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the 2012 kidnapping that ended in a 26-hour standoff with police. He has been in custody since the event and spent one year in segregation — something he himself requested fearing for his safety.
He entered the guilty plea for kidnapping Potts at gunpoint, as well as for two other weapons charges.
In his sentencing decision, Sosna highlighted the fact that Potts, as the solicitor for the city of Oshawa, was clearly targeted by Lutczyk for his role as the lawyer for the city.
Lutczyk blamed Potts for a decision the City of Oshawa made to garnish his council salary between 2008 and 2010 with respect to a $190,000 judgment against him by a construction client, and for a dispute in 2003 between the city and his father related to a zoning bylaw.
As the city solicitor, it was ultimately Potts’ responsibility to make the determination whether there was enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution under the city’s zoning bylaw. He decided there was and the prosecution led to a conviction following a trial and a $1,000 fine was imposed. Lutczyk pursued appeals all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and lost.
Lutczyk was broke, without work, and in a dissolving marriage and was directing his blame at Potts.
“David Potts, as the lawyer for the City of Oshawa, was performing his duties in accordance with his calling,” Sosna said. “Individuals performing their duties in the judicial system should have no fear of retribution for violence or threats from members of the public who perceive they have been wronged. The strength and integrity of this system of justice cannot be eroded or lessened by such actions. Lutczyk, in kidnapping David Potts, did exactly that.”
Sosna said Lutczyk’s statements to police during the 27-hour standoff after Potts managed to escape “speak volumes” for his views as they related to Potts and his role in the justice system.
Those statements include the following:
“He messed with me so many times . . . he cost me money and he did it out of malice; for no good reason.”
When asked about the fact he was targeted by Lutczyk because of actions he took as the lawyer for the city, Potts deferred to Sosna’s comments.?
“That was a concern, and I think Justice Sosna’s comments were appropriate,” he said.
When asked if he has any lasting effects from the kidnapping, Potts referred to his wife Maureen’s victim impact statement from Feb. 4, which spoke to what it was like for the family the night Potts was abducted. She described it as “the most terrifying nightmare that one could inflict on a family.”
Outside the courthouse, Maureen Potts thanked Lutczyk for his apology saying it “meant a lot to our family.”
She said her husband “is a man of great integrity and he has shown that all through this procedure, wanting a fair trial for Mr. Lutczyk. He has been an amazing father and husband all through this.”
During his pre-sentence comments, Sosna highlighted the fact that Lutczyk waited three-and-a-half years after his arrest to extend his apology to Potts and his family.
Sosna also noted additional orders to Lutczyk’s sentence include a DNA databank order, firearm prohibition for life, and a ban on contact with Potts and his family during the time Lutczyk is in custody.
“Please listen to me, Mr. Lutczyk, and listen hard. The last order I can only apply during your period of custody. . . I can’t order this, but for the sake of the Potts family that is here, who have suffered in many ways, you would be best served to stay away from them, do you understand that?”