The wife of Oshawa’s city solicitor says that on the night three years ago that her husband David Potts was kidnapped at gunpoint by a former councilor, she feared she might never see him again.
At a sentencing hearing Thursday for his abductor, Robert Lutczyk, Potts attended with 15 family members including his four children and wife Maureen, who read an emotional half-hour-long victim impact statement to the court on behalf of the family.
Often pausing to hold back her tears, Maureen Potts explained how the events of Oct. 15, 2012 unfolded and the way it has affected her family, describing it as “the most terrifying nightmare that one could ever inflict on a family. What happened is also important for anyone who has a role in the administration of justice,” she said.
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. He entered the guilty plea for kidnapping Potts at gunpoint, as well as two other weapons charges.
In his sentencing submission, Crown prosecutor Ngai On Young asked for a 10-year sentence, acknowledging kidnapping can bring a higher sentence and noting Lutczyk was probably getting “too much credit” for time already served. Even if Young’s recommendation is accepted by the court, Lutczyk will likely get “enhanced credit” on a 1.5 to 1 basis for the three years of his pre-trial custody. Two additional factors involving “hardships” he encountered while in custody include almost a year he spent in segregation and a situation in which he was naked in a segregation cell overnight.
Lutczyk’s defence counsel Chris Murphy argued for an eight-year sentence, which, with credit for time served, would result in less than two years in jail.
Weighing a number of factors and submissions on sentencing, Justice Alexander Sosna said that while ransom was a factor in the kidnapping of Potts — Lutczyk wanted him to get him money to help pay his debts — “The over-riding motive in this case was revenge.”
In fact, as Maureen Potts read in her statement to the court, “In Mr. Lutczyk’s own words, this was about ‘exacting revenge.’”
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.
He was broke, without work, and in a dissolving marriage and was directing his blame at Potts.
Potts was abducted Oct. 15, 2012 when he arrived home from a council meeting at about 10:50 p.m. Lutczyk had been waiting for him and approached him in the lawyer’s driveway. As Potts was about to greet him, Lutczyk shoved Potts into a Yukon SUV at gunpoint.
Lutczyk then drove Potts to an industrial area in Whitby, Ont., where he chained his wrists together and took his BlackBerry. At one point, he asked Potts for the password to his voicemail and played back messages from his wife and 16-year-old daughter — frantic voices in messages left after he had been abducted.
The industrial unit where Potts was held contained an arsenal of weapons including guns, grenades, plates for body armour, and 1,548 rounds of ammunition for a rifle.
On the night of the kidnapping, two of the Potts children were away at university while their other two daughters were home with their mother, a teacher, who had arrived home about an hour earlier from a meeting. They would later learn Lutczyk had been staking out the family home.
At one point during the three hours he was held hostage, Potts convinced Lutczyk to drive to a Tim Hortons restaurant to get some food. On the way, Lutczyk said: “You know, David, there is a doomsday scenario.”
Meanwhile, Potts’ wife had called police as soon as she heard Lutczyk drive away from their home. Working with Rogers Communications, police began to try and track the BlackBerry device.
Once police were able to locate Lutczyk’s vehicle at the Tim Hortons, a chase took place back to the location where he had been holding Potts. A struggle ensued and Potts was used as a “shield” for Lutczyk against police with drawn weapons, but Potts was able to escape to police unharmed.
At the end of the sentencing submissions, Lutczyk asked to provide the court with his own comments and apologized to Potts and his family saying he wished the kidnapping had never happened and that he did not intend to hurt Potts.
David Potts declined comment following the sentencing submissions, indicating he wished to wait until the judge had rendered sentence.
Sentencing will take place Feb. 26 before Justice Sosna.