PENTICTON - A Penticton man who got himself into trouble after getting low on gas near Nickel Plate Nordic Centre last April was sentenced in Penticton court today.
Albert Edgar Fontaine was sentenced on charges stemming from the April 30, 2015 incident in which Fontaine set off a security alarm when he tried to access the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre’s shop area through a rooftop vent.
Crown Prosecutor Vern Froehlich told court today, March 14, police and the ski centre’s property manager were dispatched to the ski area just after 6 p.m. on April 30, 2015.
Due to the lengthy response time of the police from Penticton, the property manager alerted two neighbours, who agreed to check out the alarm.
Witnesses arriving at the scene prior to police found a man driving a Jeep stuck on a trail located 50 metres from the scene of the break and enter. The man, later identified as Fontaine, was seen wearing brass knuckles. He also had a can of bear spray in the front seat, and following a conversation with one of the witnesses, was seen tossing a plastic bag away that was later recovered and found to contain .3 grams of methamphetamine.
A ladder was found on the ground near the shop, alongside which was a vent that had been torn off the roof.
Police arrived a short time later and arrested Fontaine. Fontaine later revealed to police he had been driving to Penticton from Abbotsford when he found himself low on gas after taking the Nickel Plate Road off Highway 3 near Hedley.
Fontaine had accessed the Nordic Centre’s shop through the opening created by the vent in the roof, but while searching of gas in the building found other items that were also found in the Jeep, including a blow torch and a laminating machine.
Fontaine was arrested and held over until May 1, when he was released under a condition to report as directed. On May 21, he was involved in a separate matter involving the kidnapping, forcible confinement and beating of a man on the Penticton Indian Reserve, along with several others.
While on bail, he disappeared until July 2 when he was arrested in Abbotsford. He’s been in detention ever since.
Froehlich noted Fontaine’s 21 prior criminal charges which include seven thefts and two weapons possession charges. He said pre sentence and psychological reports indicated Fontaine suffered from “severe multiple substance abuse disorder,” adding Fontaine also exhibited “poor bail performance.” He asked Judge Gale Sinclair for a sentence 11 months with credit of 386 days for time already served, in addition to a two-year probation.
Defence lawyer Norm Yates said his client’s prior brush with the law in 2005 had “served as a wake-up call,” saying Fontaine cleaned up his act for the next 10 years, starting a business as a carpenter four years ago. He called it a “mystery” why Fontaine went off track in the spring of 2015.
Yates said Fontaine fell prey to "being in the wrong place at the wrong time," adding the allegations against him in the kidnapping case would have been dealt with by now had defence received disclosure from the police.
He said his client was told he was going to deliver a stolen quad during the kidnapping and beating incident. Yates called the Nickel Plate incident “a cry for help.”
Judge Sinclair agreed with the prosecutor’s diagnosis of substance use disorder, calling it an issue that Fontaine must resolve, combined with Fontaine’s choice of associates.
Fontaine was sentenced to a total of 270 days on four counts, including 120 days for break and enter. He also faces two years’ probation, and remains in jail while facing charges relating to the kidnapping incident.
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