A veteran conservation officer said he feared for his life after three anglers attacked him on a lake north of Greater Sudbury in the spring of 2016.
Peter Koskela said he had discovered one of the anglers had an out-of-season brown trout and was writing up a ticket when he was assaulted on April 3, 2016, while on the frozen George Alaska Lake off Highway 144.
“I was in the process of writing the ticket,” he testified Tuesday at the start of a provincial court trial for three Greater Sudbury men. “Then I noticed the individuals walking up to the snowmobile, which is not uncommon.
“In this case, I was writing the ticket, three individuals came directly to me and the next thing you know, I was grabbed and put in a headlock. Steven Friel grabbed my arms, one was to my side and one around my head.
“Garry St. Jean was trying to wrestle to get the driver’s licence from my hand … At that point, I feared for my life. I did not know what was going to happen. My duty belt (containing a handgun and collapsible baton) was inside my snowmobile suit. I could not get at them because I was immobilized.”
He was testifying on the first day of a scheduled three-day trial for three men charged in the alleged attack. St. Jean, 46, of Chelmsford, Alex Friel, 20, and Steven Friel, 43, both of Garson, are each facing five charges: assaulting a peace officer, two counts of theft under $5,000, mischief and willfully obstructing a peace officer.
Koskela said he was working alone, checking ice-fishing parties for compliance with licensing and fish taken that day. He said he had travelled to the lake by snowmobile after parking his ministry truck about 500 metres away.
The conservation officer said he decided to de-escalate the situation and stopped resisting.
As St. Jean grabbed his driver’s licence, Koskela said Alex Friel was yelling and swearing at him.