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Sex offender acquitted on theft and mischief charges

Stephanie McDonald
Northern News Services
Published Monday, October 29, 2007

IQALUIT - Convicted sex offender Jason Hikoalok was found not guilty Oct. 26 of stealing items from a home where he was housesitting.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Jason Hikoalok sits in the Nunavut Court of Justice lobby last November. - NNSL file photo

When the director of the Salvation Army men's homeless shelter, Carol-Anne Scott, needed to travel to Ontario for her sister's funeral last March, she asked Hikoalok to housesit.

During her absence, goods were stolen from the house, landing Hikoalok back in the Nunavut Court of Justice.

Hikoalok was charged with theft and public mischief with intent to mislead a peace officer, but was acquitted by Justice Earl Johnson on Oct. 26. Johnson said there was not enough evidence to convict him.

When he appeared in court on Oct. 24, Hikoalok often laid his head on the table and said little to his lawyer.

Details surrounding the incident are murky as the primary witness the Crown brought forward gave conflicting testimony.

On the night of March 5, Hikoalok called RCMP to report a break and enter at Scott's house, where he was housesitting. He said he had been out for a 30-minute walk and returned to find the complainant's laptop and DVD player missing.

The lead RCMP investigator in the case testified that he found the door frame busted and tool marks near the door handle, as if someone had used a pry bar to gain entry to the house.

"I was concerned right from the get go," Const. James Morrison said. Typically, houses are left in a state of disarray after a break and enter, but the Scott's house showed no sign of search activity in the removal of the electronic equipment.

Another witness testified that he had bought a necklace, belonging to Scott, from Hikoalok for $30 worth of marijuana. He went on to say that he was mystified upon finding a backpack of what he later learned was the Scott's property in his house.

He called the complainant to inquire if she was missing any of her things. In the same conversation he asked for a reward for having found the missing goods contained in the backpack - her laptop, two necklaces, and two carvings.

Defence layer Chris Debicki attempted to discredit the witness, implying that it had been his nephew who had brought the backpack of stolen goods into the house and the witness was protecting him by accusing Hikoalok.

Upon learning of the backpack in the witness's possession, RCMP fingered Hikoalok as the prime suspect and arrested him on March 17.

The RCMP contended that Hikoalok was the one to have taken the complainant's goods and put marks in the door to have it appear as if someone had broken into the house.

"He had proven himself as a person moving ahead and bettering himself," Scott said from the stand when asked why she had allowed Hikoalok to housesit in her absence.

She first met him when he came to the shelter in November 2006, after he had spent eight years in a federal penitentiary. He had been convicted of raping a five-year-old girl in Cambridge Bay in 1998.

Scott told the court that when she returned home she found that she was missing not only her laptop and DVD player, but also her surround sound system, medication, food and carvings. Two of her car tires had also been slashed.