More than five months' jail for South Okanagan crime spree

A man with what Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji called a "horrendous" bail record was given 157 days' jail sentence for a string of crimes in Penticton court today, Nov. 8, 2016.

PENTICTON - A man who pleaded guilty to a string of alcohol-fuelled crimes will spend another 44 days behind bars.

Benjamin Joe entered guilty pleas to 12 charges, dating back to September 2015, in Penticton court Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Crown Prosecutor Nashina Devji described Joe’s lengthy list of recent offences in addition to a prior record that included a dozen property offences, prior to asking Judge Meg Shaw for a total of 157 days jail time and 18 months probation in a joint submission with defence lawyer Jason Oliver.

Joe’s crimes, which included possession of stolen property, theft under $5,000, fraud, possession of stolen credit cards, and mischief, unfolded in court in chronological order:

On Sept. 16, 2015, Summerland RCMP received a report of theft from vehicle as a resident reported several items, including a hedger, chain saw, iPad and other items stolen overnight from his vehicle. The items turned up in a Kelowna pawnshop with Joe eventually identified as the man who pawned them.

On Oct. 24, 2015, an employee at Urban Dollar in Cherry Lane Mall in Penticton spotted Joe entering an "employees only" portion of the store with a back pack and gift bag. She pursued him as he exited into a corridor and grabbed the backpack when a struggle ensued. Another mall employee assisted, and the two were able to temporarily detain Joe while police were called. Joe was eventually able to break free, however, knocking down a female patron of the mall before escaping to Kinney Avenue, where police caught up with him. Joe was found to have unpaid goods worth $536.32 in his bags. He was arrested and released on a promise to appear. Joe was on bail at the time of the offence.

On Dec. 14, 2015, a locked up construction site was broken into over the weekend and discovered by construction workers the following Monday. Joe was on bail at the time of this incident as well. Lights, extension cords and copper tubing was missing. The items were later traced to a Penticton pawnshop where Joe was identified through video surveillance as the man pawning the items.

On Jan. 21, 2016, Joe was at the Rosedale Medical Clinic in Summerland where he was caught walking into a doctor’s office and stealing a wallet, once again while on bail for the previous two offences.

On Mar. 7, 2016, police were called after Joe broke the windshield of a man who would not let him into the residence of his ex-girlfriend.

On Mar. 29, 2016, Joe walked out of the Sushi Genki Restaurant in Penticton after leaving his birth certificate and $9 to pay for $35.27 worth of food.

On April 4, 2016, a Penticton doctor contacted police after his wallet was stolen out of a change room locker at Penticton Community Centre.

More than $1,000 in transactions were rung up before the doctor could cancel his cards. Video surveillance at the community centre and several retail outlets identified Joe as the perpetrator.

Devji noted Joe’s aggressive behaviour and “sense of entitlement,” calling his bail behaviour “horrendous.”

Defence lawyer Jason Oliver told the judge his client suffered from “a myriad of problems,” the main one being alcoholism. He said his 38-year-old client had alcoholism in the family, but his client had seen the error of his ways and was enrolling in a Discovery House program to treat his problem.

Oliver also noted his client suffered from serious back issues, requiring surgery. He said Joe regretted what he’d done and understood he needed to make changes in his life.

Joe told the judge he was “embarrassed to be here,” adding he had his life together until a year and a half ago when he lost his rights to see his daughters and began drinking heavily.

Judge Shaw said she had paid attention to the aggravating factors suggested by Crown, noting Joe’s behaviour represented an ongoing pattern. Before she agreed to the sentence, she said it was particularly concerning Joe exhibited aggressive tendencies while trying to get away.

“Theft is one thing, aggressive behaviour is another. It’s a sad history. My concern is, he still isn’t getting it,” she said.

Judge Shaw agreed to the joint submission, attaching a lengthy list of “no go” and “no contact” orders to establishments and people victimized by Joe. He will also have to pay $513.48 in restitution.

Joe has been in custody for 75 days. With enhanced credit for time served, he has 44 days remaining in his sentence.

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