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Williams Lake man who threw kidnapped couple off bridge sentenced to life in prison

Jayson Gilbert will serve 18 years before being eligible for parole
Jayson Gilbert was arrested Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 and charged in connection to the incident at the Rudy Johnson Bridge the day before. (Facebook photo)

A Williams Lake area man who kidnapped a couple and threw them off the Rudy Johnson Bridge resulting in the death of the man, will serve at least 18 years in prison.

Jayson Gilbert appeared in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver on Dec. 8 and was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to second degree murder, attempted murder and kidnapping in the death of Branton Regner three years ago.

He was also sentenced seven years concurrent for attempted murder and three years concurrent for kidnapping, and received a 10-year firearm ban.

“Gilbert was ordered to serve 18 years before he will be eligible for parole on the murder charge,” said Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel BC Prosecution Service.

Regner, who was 34, and his girlfriend Chantelle Laplante were taken by vehicle north of Williams Lake on Aug. 8, 2019.

He was beaten and thrown off the Rudy Johnson Bridge into the Fraser River on Aug. 9, 2019 along with Laplante.

His body was found three weeks later 50 km downstream near the Sheep Creek Bridge on Aug. 27, by someone who was fishing there.

Laplante swam to safety on an island in the river and hid there until the morning when she swam across the shore and made her way up the road to a home where she received help.

Originally Gilbert was charged with first degree murder for the death of Regner, but pleaded guilty on April 8, 2022 to the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Michael Drynock and Jordell Sellars were also accused of first degree murder, attempted murder and kidnapping in the case.

Drynock went to trial in April and May 2022 and afterwards Supreme Court Justice Carol J. Ross found Drynock not guilty on all counts.

The charges against Sellars were stayed in October 2021, however, Sellars is facing charges with shooting two people on Sunday, July 3, 2022 in the upper level of the Williams Lake Stampede grounds.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 14 in Williams Lake.

READ MORE: Williams Lake man to be sentenced for 2019 Rudy Johnson Bridge kidnappings, murder

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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