ATHABASCA – One of two men involved in pinching a garbage truck and a pair of vehicle batteries from Cross Lake Provincial Park in January 2022 now faces straight jail time after breaking his six-month conditional sentence order (CSO) that included three months of strict, 24-hour-a-day house arrest.
In Athabasca Provincial Court March 13, Judge Gordon Putman agreed to collapse the CSO Kelly Paul Morin received in Westlock Provincial Court Oct. 12 after he had pleaded guilty to shopbreaking with intent and sent him to jail for an additional 45 days.
Morin, who’s currently behind bars at the Edmonton Remand Centre, had been set to serve three months of 24-hour-a-day house arrest, followed by three months of a daily 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
Crown prosecutor Nicole Parker told court that on Jan. 11, 2023, Athabasca RCMP submitted a report to his probation officer that on Dec. 27, 2022, he had been spotted outside his residence without permission.
Morin is scheduled to be back in court March 27 as he also currently faces charges of possession of stolen property over $5,000, altering or removing a vehicle’s information number and mischief-damage under $5,000.
Previous judge called CSO completion a “pipedream”
With the pre-sentence Gladue Report on Morin in hand Oct. 12, Judge Clifton Purvis warily agreed to the joint-sentence CSO recommendation from Crown prosecutor Alison Moore and defence lawyer Richard Forbes.
Morin also pleaded guilty that day to driving an uninsured motor vehicle following a June 24, 2022, arrest and was fined $6,000, while a second identical charge was withdrawn — Judge Purvis gave him until Oct 31, 2023, to at least get some of the fine paid.
And while Judge Purvis called Morin’s chances of successfully completing the CSO a “pipedream” and cited his past convictions for failing to comply with court orders, he wished the Fawcett man “the best of luck” and waived the victim-fine surcharge — Moore also noted Morin had “several” convictions for possession of stolen property under $5,000.
At that sitting, additional charges of theft of a motor vehicle, theft under $5,000, mischief-damage under $5,000, possession of break-in instruments and failing to comply with conditions of an undertaking were withdrawn, while Moore stayed two counts of failing to comply with conditions of an undertaking and single charges of trespassing at night, possession of break-in instruments and mischief-damage under $5,000.
“I’m skeptical. But I wish him the best and I hope I’m wrong,” said Judge Purvis. “But if this comes before me and you’ve breached it, it will be collapsed, and you will have to serve the entire time.”
Moore and Forbes both noted Morin has “significant mental health issues” exasperated when he goes off his prescribed meds. As part of the sentence, Morin, who last served a three-month CSO in 2019, has also been banned from consuming drugs and alcohol as well as attending Cross Lake Provincial Park.
“Given what was outlined by the Gladue Report writer, I think Mr. Forbes and I are hopeful that Mr. Morin will be able to address some of the underlying conditions in his offending. We are of the view that this CSO is onerous enough in that it addresses denunciation and deterrence, and it is not warranted that Mr. Morin be separated from society,” said Moore.
Added Forbes: “He advises that in speaking with his wife, his previous successes on the CSOs have been as a result of him taking his medications and doing what the doctors are advising and not self-medicating.”
At the July 13, 2022, court appearance, Crown prosecutor Brett Grierson said that overnight Jan. 17, 2022, Morin and a co-accused broke into a secure, utilities yard at Cross Lake Provincial Park, which is located roughly 60 kilometres north of the Town of Westlock. That night, Morin and the other man worked for an hour with a hand-held grinder and saw to cut through a metal gate barring the road to the campground.
“The two then attached a toe-strap around the damaged gate and attached the other end to a dark-coloured Ford pickup truck and accelerated with the truck to snap the gate in half,” said Grierson.
The men then headed towards the utility yard and used bolt cutters to cut a hole in the chain link fence and a lock. Finally on site, they entered several sheds on the property and swiped a pair of vehicle batteries, as well as marked Ford F-350 garbage truck.
“The accused was identified by trail cameras set up near the initial gate and his face was clearly visible,” said Grierson.
On Jan. 20, police arrested Morin and he showed them on a map where the stolen garbage truck was hidden. There, police were able to recover the truck, which had some of its Government of Alberta decals partially removed.