Judge is sympathetic, but out of options in sentencing chronic offender - InfoNews

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Judge is sympathetic, but out of options in sentencing chronic offender

Lawrence Jordan Brown will serve 14 and a half months for breaches and theft following sentencing in Penticton court today, June 5, 2017.
June 05, 2017 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - Despite his lawyer’s plea for leniency, a Penticton judge said the justice system had run out of options for a man sentenced in court today.

Lawrence Jordan Brown faced sentencing on several charges, including theft of a motor vehicle, shoplifting, breach and failure to appear.

Judge Gregory Koturbash told Brown he had compassion for the man’s difficult upbringing but said: “We have tried everything that is out there to get you back on track, but it’s failed.”

He followed a recommendation from the Crown for a sentence of almost 15 months in jail.

Crown Prosecutor Carla Dewar told court police were called to the Wholesale Club in Penticton on Dec 22, 2015, where store employees indicated Brown had been shoplifting.

Police attended and found Brown near the store’s entrance.

A search revealed a jar of peanut butter and a can of body spray, valued at $13, along with needle nose pliers and wire snips.

He was arrested and released Dec.23.

On Nov.27, 2016, Brown was implicated along with an accomplice in the theft of a white Dodge pick up, stolen overnight from a Penticton address.

The stolen truck was observed at the south end of Penticton, along with a second truck being driven by two women. Police had reason to believe thefts of the two vehicles were related.

Police were investigating the two women when they received word the stolen Dodge had been abandoned nearby, though the occupants fled the scene.

Brown’s partner was arrested while trying to run away, and Brown was found nearby, hiding under a motorhome.

The women denied knowing anything about the stolen truck, but implicated Brown. A back pack found near the stolen truck was recovered, containing clothing from Brown and his accomplice. Brown was also identified through photos as being involved with the stolen vehicle.

Brown was arrested and released on Dec. 14, while still on bail conditions from an earlier sentence.

Police making routine checks on Dec. 21 found Brown downtown Penticton with a bottle of alcohol and what appeared to be tools used for breaking and entering. He was found to be noticeably intoxicated, which was a breach of conditions. He was arrested and released Dec. 22, only to be found missing from a curfew check on Jan. 2, 2017.

On Jan. 6, a warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court. He was arrested Feb. 9 and has been in custody since.

Dewar asked Judge Koturbash for a sentence of 14 months and 14 days for his crimes, noting his lengthy and almost continuous criminal record since the age of 15, including a number of significant property offences.

Defence lawyer Norm Yates asked the court to give Brown considerable credit for taking responsibility for his acts and entering guilty pleas.

“He’s not a very good thief,” Yates said, calling a 60-day sentence for $13 worth of merchandise “excessive.”

Yates noted his client struggled with alcohol issues, and asked the judge to take heed of a Gladu report describing adverse factors in Brown’s life. Yates said it was likely Brown’s mother used alcohol during her pregnancy with Brown, but no firm diagnosis of fetal alcohol syndrome had been made.

He said his client struggled with the loss of an eye at an early age in an incident that, had he been treated sooner, may have saved the eye.

Yates said his client wanted to put his criminal behaviour behind him, finish high school, get treatment for his alcoholism, and move on with his life, adding it wasn’t always necessary to sentence according to the “step up principle.”

Brown, 27, apologized and took full responsibility for his actions, adding he wanted this to be his last time in custody.

Judge Koturbash noted Brown’s early upbringing, including an incident where Brown was placed behind a cardboard barrier in school by one of his teachers to keep other students away from him. 

“We’ve explored other Aboriginal justice programs and sent you to those programs, but you have not completed those programs.... I’m a bit at a loss to know what to do with you, Jordan, I have a great deal of sympathy and compassion for your situation, but, having said that, protection from the public is paramount in every sentence,” the judge said.

“My fingers are crossed every time I see you in hopes you can turn the corner and get control of your alcohol issues. We’ve run out of options. You have to think of one,” he said.

With time served, Brown has 201 days left in jail, followed by 18 months probation.

Brown was also before the court pertaining to other charges where a plea of not guilty was entered. He will face a later trial date for those charges.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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