No jail time for young offender involved in South Okanagan break and enter | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No jail time for young offender involved in South Okanagan break and enter

October 31, 2016 - 6:30 PM

PENTICTON - A former Okanagan Falls youth will not go to jail for his role in a break in at a modular home park in Okanagan Falls earlier this year.

The youth, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, faces an 18 month conditional discharge after pleading guilty to breaking into the home, along with an accomplice, in the middle of the night on May 29.

Court heard from Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerchs the 16-year-old and another youth were heard by neighbours rummaging through the modular home in the middle of the night.

Police arrived on scene just after 3 a.m. and after waiting for additional backup that included a police dog, called on the two to come out. There was no response until police threatened to unleash the police dog, at which time the pair surrendered.

Officers found two backpacks containing liquor and ransacked items from the residence, including food, jewellery, an iPad, medication and identification belonging to the homeowner, who was away from the residence at the time.

A rifle, which belonged to the owner of the residence, was also found near the front door.

Lerchs pointed to the youth’s lack of criminal record and a pre-sentence report that noted the youth’s troubled upbringing, constant relocation in foster homes, a predisposition for cannabis, in addition to his possibly suffering from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Lerchs said the decision to break into the modular home was one of spur of the moment, and largely at the behest of his partner. She asked Judge Gregory Koturbash for an 18 month probationary sentence with curfew and counselling conditions.

Defence lawyer Paul Vargas said his client understood the incident was “probably the stupidest thing he’s ever done in his life so far,” adding his client readily admitted his guilt, cooperated with police and expressed remorse.

He said his client never thought once about taking the rifle as part of the robbery, calling him a follower who needed counselling with "programming appropriate to his development.”

Vargas asked for a discharge with conditions.

Judge Koturbash noted recent studies that suggested cannabis use was more dangerous for youth than older people, noting the impulsiveness of the crime and the youth’s difficult childhood.

He said it appeared the youth’s accomplice was the leader in the incident, but expressed concerns about the heightened risk to a homeowner created by having two persons involved in the crime.

Judge Koturbash agreed with Crown’s request, telling the youth if he made progress and cooperated fully with his probation officers, he might be able to reduce the length of his probation. The youth will be subject to a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, is not to consume alcohol or drugs and must present an apology to his victim by the end of the year.

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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