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Judge merciful in old theft case

Terrence McEachern
Northern News Services
Published Friday, July 8, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - A 25-year-old Yellowknife man who went on a seven-week crime spree in the city six years ago and then fled to Saskatchewan was sentenced to one day in jail, probation and community service in territorial court on June 30.

"I'm ashamed of what I did, I was 19, I was drinking a lot," said the offender, who pleaded guilty to break and enter, theft, possession of stolen property and failing to show up for court.

The man said he understood he had been out of control but he wanted, at the time, to get to Saskatchewan and straighten out his life. He said now he just wanted to get the matter over with and move on.

The first offence the man committed took place on May 18, 2005, when security staff patrolling Centre Square Mall around 4 a.m. noticed that someone had broken into and stole from a clothing store by prying open the security gate, according to Crown prosecutor Angie Paquin, who read the facts of the case.

Later that morning, the store's owner went to inspect the damage and discovered close to $900 worth of goods had been taken, including a $300 jacket. But then the owner spotted a man wearing the same jacket walking by the store. Security guards detained him. At the RCMP detachment he admitted to breaking into the store and taking the items. Only the jacket was recovered.

Then on June 28, 2005, Yellowknife police responded to a complaint at 3 a.m. of a man prowling around several backyards and cars near Brown Court in the Range Lake area. The man was arrested and charged with trespassing and possession of a stolen bicycle and stolen iPod. He was released, but then arrested again the next day when a witness noticed the man stealing another bicycle on Calder Crescent.

The man was scheduled to appear in court on July 26, 2005, but didn't show up and an arrest warrant was issued. It was not until June 17, almost six years later, the man was arrested again in Yellowknife. The circumstances of that arrest were not described in court. However, it was explained that the offender had come back to Yellowknife in April and had been staying with his mother in Dettah and, more recently, at the Salvation Army.

The man's lawyer, Thomas Boyd, told the court his client was raised in Kugluktuk and had come to Yellowknife when he was 14. He left the NWT for Prince Albert, Sask., in April 2006, where he straightened himself out with the help of religion and a job at a fast-food restaurant.

Judge Garth Malakoe said he accepted that the man has undergone rehabilitation and, with the exception of a breach-of-probation conviction in Saskatchewan in 2009, has managed to turn his life around.

"It's difficult to sentence someone who committed the offences as a youth, since the man before me is now different from the man in 2005," Malakoe said.

The judge consequently agreed to a joint recommendation by the Crown and defence lawyers, and he sentenced the man to one day in jail, 18 months probation and 80 hours of

community service.

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