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No jail for teen's cigarette theft

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 25/05) - A Yellowknife man who turned his 18th birthday party into a criminal record will not face jail for breaking into a downtown convenience store, a judge ruled Tuesday afternoon.

The man forced his way into the Saigon Smoke Shop on 50th Street at 4:30 a.m. on August 25 - just hours after he turned 18.

The man, who was fresh from his alcohol-fuelled celebrations, stole several packs of cigarettes and passed them to three young girls who were standing nearby, Crown attorney Sandra Aitken said in territorial court.

The man pleaded guilty to break and enter during the hearing. Chief Judge Brian Bruser handed down a suspended sentence, which means the man will not face jail if he stays out of trouble.

However, Bruser said the man faces the potential of longer sentences if he breaks the law again.

"I have a different kind of book here," Bruser said, holding the Criminal Code of Canada.

"A great deal of unpleasant business could come your way."

Aitken had recommended two to three months in jail, a sentence Bruser said was not unreasonable. But the man has attempted to make amends and now has a job and apartment - things that would be threatened if he were behind bars, defence lawyer Margo Nightingale said.

"He is extremely disappointed in himself for being so, so foolish," she said.

In a brief statement to the court, the man said he has seen the error of his ways.

"I believe that since the day of the crime that I committed... I have turned my life around."

In a victim impact statement, the store-owner called the man a "stupid idiot" and said they were frustrated with being called to the smoke shop in the middle of the night to deal with break-ins.