'Marginalized and impoverished' man serves jail term for drug and theft charges - InfoNews

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'Marginalized and impoverished' man serves jail term for drug and theft charges

Vaughn Stacey Baptiste was released after serving seven and a half months on numerous drug and theft charges in Penticton court today, April 13, 2018.
April 13, 2018 - 2:42 PM

PENTICTON - A Penticton man who has been homeless for 20 years is seeking to make a new start following his release from prison after serving his sentence today.

Vaughn Stacey Baptiste entered guilty pleas to charges of possession of stolen property exceeding $5,000, theft under $5,000, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance in Penticton court this morning, April 13.

In passing sentence, Judge Michelle Daneliuk noted the 47-year-old Baptiste suffered from addiction and was living in a tent, camping in the bush, collecting recycling for a living and eating from a soup kitchen when he was arrested Nov. 14, 2017, for failing to appear.

A pre-sentence and Gladue report noted Baptiste’s native background and poor upbringing leading to addiction issues later in life, resulting in what Daneliuk referred to as a “growing criminal history.”

Baptiste had recently been released from previous offences when he was caught shoplifting $17.50 worth of goods from the Real Canadian Superstore on May 31, 2017.

He breached conditions in June and on July 3 was caught in the passenger seat of a stolen vehicle, along with another man who was in the driver’s seat.

On Aug. 3, police caught Baptiste with 4.8 grams of methamphetamine and 2.51 grams of cocaine.

Daneliuk noted the relatively small amounts of illicit drugs found on Baptiste, referring to the amounts as less likely to be those of a drug dealer as that of a marginalized, addicted and impoverished individual.

She said Baptiste was not in control of the stolen vehicle when found by police, and more likely to be party to the person in possession.

The judge found it aggravating Baptiste had prior records for narcotics possession and breach.

Defence lawyer Norm Yates called his client “exceptionally motivated” to deal with his addictions and return to a normal life, saying Baptiste was “currently clear headed and straight thinking.”

Baptiste told the judge he had been in contact with the Martin Street clinic to find lodging, and had been looking into funding for training programs.

Judge Daneliuk ordered a sentence of 223 days for Baptiste’s crimes.

With enhanced credit for time served totalling 225 days, Baptiste was to be released from custody today. He also faces 18 months probation.

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