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Owners trap would-be thief in trailer

Attempted theft of a snowmobile lands Slave Lake man four and a half months in jail
Barrhead Provincial Court (VM)

BARRHEAD - A former Swan Hills man received 280 days in jail after pleading guilty to breaking into and entering a storage trailer this summer.

In Barrhead Court of Justice on Nov. 28, Jesse Walters, 33, who now lives in Slave Lake, pleaded guilty to two counts of break and enter into a structure other than a dwelling house.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Dirgo also withdrew another charge of break and entering into a structure other than a dwelling house and two counts of mischief causing damage under $5,000 and theft under $5,000.

Justice Gordon Putnam handed down the sentence, accepting a joint submission from the Crown and defence lawyer Gordon Collins, acting on behalf of Derek Renzini, saying it was a "fit and proper sentence", adding the thoughtfulness of the Crown and defence's work.

On the first count of break and enter into a structure other than a dwelling house, Walter received 230 days in custody, while on the second count, he received 50 days. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

However, the court credited Walters with 135 days of enhanced pretrial custody, leaving 145 days in his sentence.

Putnam also waived the victim fine surcharge, saying it would be an undue hardship and ordered any items seized be returned to their rightful owners.

The facts

Dirgo said on Aug. 24, 2023, Swan Hills RCMP were alerted to a break-and-enter in progress in the Hillside Avenue neighbourhood.

When they arrived, police found Walters inside a storage trailer containing an Artic Cat snowmobile.

Dirgo noted that the property owners noticed Walters had broken into the trailer and trapped him inside by backing a truck against the doors.

He added that the snowmobile suffered minor damage due to Walters' activity.

Sentencing considerations

Dirgo noted aggravating factors included Walters' previous criminal record and the strength of the Crown's case. In contrast, mitigating factors included taking responsibility for his actions, as demonstrated by his guilty pleas.

"This is far from the most serious break and enter, and the sentence accounts for an early guilty plea and a very strong Crown case. It is also incremental to ones he has received in the past," he said.

Collins said his client is of Indigenous descent, originally hailing from the Katzie First Nation in B.C.'s lower mainland. He was waiving his right to a Gladue pre-sentencing report, which courts can use when considering the multitude of factors that can cause an Indigenous person to become in conflict with the law.

Collins also noted that Walters has employment after he is released.

"After the fire, he was doing a lot of construction work in the area and then got addicted to some painkillers," he said.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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