Time served for Penticton man fighting addiction

PENTICTON - A Penticton man will be released from jail in order to get treatment for his addictions.

Jayson Kenneth Caruso, in custody since Feb. 13, was sentenced in Penticton Provincial Court yesterday, March 30, to time already served for one charge of breaching a conditional sentence order, two charges of theft and one charge of possession of stolen property.

Crown Prosecutor Kurt Froehlich told Judge Gale Sinclair that Caruso was under a conditional sentence order after being sentenced for theft under $5,000 on Jan. 2. He was directed to attend a treatment centre, but ended up in a Prince George hospital due to a heroin overdose.

He made it to a treatment facility on Jan. 15, but was asked to leave after testing positive for controlled substances, which was also a breach of conditions.

On Feb. 13, a member of the staff at Kelowna General Hospital reported to police her backpack had been taken from a staff area of the hospital. In it were her iPhone, keys, and a wallet containing credit cards.

Video surveillance revealed Caruso entering the staff area and carrying the backpack to the rear of the hospital where he was seen emptying items out of it.

By the time police caught up with him at 3:30 the following morning, one of the missing credit cards had been used twice.

Caruso cooperated with police and returned the stolen cards but after he spent $100.

Froehlich asked for a lengthy jail term for the theft of the backpack, calling it a "serious offence to the community” to steal from a hospital.

Defence lawyer James Pennington told court his 26-year-old client has been fighting a drug habit for years, in addition to needing medication for psychological issues.

“When Jason is off his medication, this is exactly what happens,” Pennington said, adding it was unfortunate that his client stole from a hospital worker, but that fact "didn’t elevate the crime.”

Caruso spoke on his own behalf, telling Judge Sinclair his recent issues occurred as a result of a relapse. He said he had until Thursday, March 31, to appear at a treatment centre in Surrey or lose his bed and asked the judge to give him “one more chance” and “to help me in this time of need."

“I will and I’ll also remember I gave you the chance, so if you come back, the gloves are off,” Judge Sinclair warned.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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