KELOWNA – A Kelowna man wept as the circumstances of his life were read aloud in court yesterday.
Jesse Shawcross, 33, was adopted at age four. He spent most of his early years in hospital as the victim of neglect and abuse and diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Although the family who took him in were loving and supportive, he always wondered who his real parents were. When he finally managed to track them down he found a father who was addicted to crack and a mother who wanted nothing to do with him.
In grade 7 he tried crack cocaine for the first time and began his career as a criminal. He has been arrested and convicted of at least one crime every year since 1999.
Starting around age 14, Shawcross was in and out of foster homes and youth detention centres and has more than a dozen convictions for drug possession and trafficking on his record across the province. He has essentially been homeless for the last five years.
Judge Ellen Burdett heard the circumstances that put him back in jail.
In August 2015, a security camera outside a Kelowna condo complex caught Shawcross trying to get in a side door. He worked at it for about five minutes before finally giving up and riding away on a bicycle.
Later that day an officer who recognized his picture went looking for him downtown and found him on Leon Avenue wearing the same clothes and riding the same bike. He was arrested and taken to the detachment where officers found 24 grams of methamphetamine, two grams of marijuana, and three grams of heroin.
He was released on a promise to appear
The next month Shawcross would be arrested four more times, once in City Park where he was found with a syringe filled with meth, a small amount of crack and $2,000 cash and again three days later when a plainclothes officer saw him and another known addict enter the public bathroom where they did meth.
Less than two weeks later, another officer arrested him on Leon Avenue for being in the red zone while on parole and another two weeks later he sold heroin to an undercover officer. In October he was arrested for the last time when an officer noticed two men shooting up in an alley downtown. He was arrested for possession of cocaine and has been in custody since.
On June 9 he appeared via video and cried when his life was summarized. He was charged with possession of controlled substances, trafficking, breach of probation, breaking and entering and mischief.
His lawyer Gavin Jones described him as someone who was “down and out in the red zone” but is trying desperately to rehabilitate. He pleaded guilty to all charges and never lied to the police, he said.
“He is stepping up to the plate."
Burdett appeared to sympathize with him but sentenced him to 14 months in jail and parole.
“He has a really, really sad background,” she said. “He needs to address these risk factors or he will continue to be back in jail.”
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