Kamloops man sentenced after increasingly sophisticated break-in spree | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops man sentenced after increasingly sophisticated break-in spree


A Kamloops man has been sentenced to two years in jail for break-ins throughout the city including two within one week this past summer while he was on probation.

Justin Brown-Henderson, 28, now has five convictions for breaking and entering just this year, which a Crown prosecutor described as increasingly "sophisticated."

His most recent break-in was at a B.C. Liquor Store on Aug. 31, around 6 a.m., where he used a ladder to enter through rooftop vents before he was arrested just as he was leaving with cash, liquor and a laptop.

He pleaded guilty to two separate counts of breaking and entering, theft under $5,000 and breach of probation on Thursday, Dec. 22.

"It was a fairly sophisticated break in," Crown prosecutor Evan Goulet said. "The video showed from inside the establishment a man drops a backpack from the ceiling, then lowers himself wearing a ski mask and gloves."

The court heard he managed to make his way into the warehouse area of the Summit Drive liquor store, but he broke through drywall to get his way into the store area.

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He was spotted on surveillance footage in the act and an employee watching the feed called Kamloops RCMP while he was still inside. He crawled his way to the cash registers and smashed them on the ground to retrieve the cash inside.

He then made is way to an office area and cut the power to the building, which was when the live surveillance feed cut.

Brown-Henderson eventually left the building carrying cash, liquor and a laptop, where he was met with multiple police officers.

"One of the members had her firearm unholstered when Mr. Brown-Henderson exited. She pointed her weapon at him," Goulet said. "He took two steps back as if he was going to re-enter the building, then the member told him he was under arrest and grabbed him."

On Aug. 23, he broke into the Red Tomato Pies pizza restaurant on Tranquille Road, also through its rooftop vents. He smashed the cash registers and made off with roughly $600.

Two days earlier, he stole a $799 laptop on display at a Tranquille Road electronics store. He tried to unplug the computer, but gave up and tore it from the display and ran from the store, all while it was open and busy with customers. Police took six days to go to the store and review its surveillance footage, where the officer immediately recognized Brown-Henderson as he took the laptop, according to Goulet.

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The Crown asked for 18 months jail time, followed by 18 months of probation, but defence lawyer John Gustafson argued Brown-Henderson should only see 100 days in jail when taking into account 175 days he would get credited for time already in custody.

Gustafson also said it would be an exaggeration to call the liquor store break-in "sophisticated," since the ladder was already in the area and Brown-Henderson broke his way through drywall inside the store.

"In fact, I think I've had a dog do precisely that in my house, so it's certainly not a sophisticated offence," he said.

Addiction issues play a "central role" in his criminal activity over the past four years, Gustafson said.

"Things began to deteriorate for him in 2018. That really reached its pinnacle when he lost his home," he said. "What was previously a minor addiction problem became a really serious one."

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Brown-Henderson was sentenced for two break and enters in February, where he broke into the Kelson Group offices through the vents on in one of the offences. The other was at a North Shore liquor store.

Goulet did said Brown-Henderson now has five break and enter convictions this year, but he did not provide details on the third.

"Clearly there was some thought put into this and some planning, in the sense that although the ladder may have just been there... Mr. Brown-Henderson did have a balaclava. He also appears to have damaged the cord going to the (surveillance system)," Justice Roy Dickey said.

"He gained entrance through the roof as he did on prior occasions. I agree with defence that this wasn't certainly wasn't the most sophisticated, but I also agree this wasn't just a momentary thought. It did take some planning."

Justice Dickey handed Brown-Henderson a 14 month jail sentence. He'll get 175 days credit because he's been in custody since the liquor store break-in. His probation will include an order that prohibits him from owning anything that could disguise his face, including a balaclava, which the Crown asked be added to his other probation orders.

Dickey asked Brown-Henderson if he had anything to say to the court.

"I was in a bad place before and I didn't have anywhere to go," he said. "I wouldn't normally do something like that."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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