Probation breaches result in further jail time for Keremeos man

PENTICTON - A Keremeos man who couldn’t stay away from the Similkameen area faces another 73 days in jail for his actions.

Murray Dru Henry Hopkins, 29, was sentenced in Penticton court today, Jan. 30, for five probation breaches and one count of being unlawfully in a dwelling house.

Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji told court Hopkins was under a probation order to report to his probation officer as part of an 18 month sentence for assault and break and enter when he failed to report on July 16, 2016.

Hopkins was later found to have cancelled his cell phone, left his employer and moved from his residence without informing his probation officer, and a warrant for his arrest issued.

He was still under probation orders on Sept. 8 when Keremeos RCMP were called to a Cawston residence to deal with Hopkins, who was reportedly rowdy. The police found him in a nearby field, asleep with signs of intoxication, again contrary to probation orders not to drink or be in the Keremeos area.

On Sept. 10, police received an anonymous call that Hopkins was at his father’s house on Ashnola Road, again in violation of probation orders. He was arrested and released on recognizance when police were called to his father’s residence again on Sept. 21, after receiving reports Hopkins and his girlfriend were trashing the home.

Police arrived to find Hopkin’s father outside who left the house out of fear for his own safety. Officers found the house in a state of disarray, with broken glass and debris throughout. Hopkins was downstairs, in an aggressive mood, but police were tactful and patient and managed to calm and arrest him.

Devji referred to Hopkins’ complete lack of reporting duties to probation as “off the grid,” and proved Hopkins’ loss of stability. She said his infractions while on probation showed “no respect or appreciation for the sanctity of people’s homes,” and further breaches showed “no regard for limits placed by courts.”

Devji asked Judge Koturbash to consider a 545 day jail sentence and 18 months probation for the five breaches and single charge of being unlawfully in a dwelling house.

Defence lawyer James Pennington said his client’a drinking problem was compounded by a head injury suffered in a 2014 vehicle collision.

“When they mix together, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Pennington said, noting Hopkins’ girlfriend was another negative to Hopkins’ behaviour.

Pennington asked Judge Koturbash to consider a sentence of six to nine months with probation, as well as providing him with an opportunity to reside with his father in the Similkameen.

Hopkins also spoke on his own behalf, saying to court he had taken numerous courses while in prison for the past six months. He had undergone counselling, consulted with a psychiatrist and was under medical treatment.

Hopkins said he had support within the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, and steady work with his father, who also expressed a need to have his son out of jail to work.

"I've got a lot of support out there, but I've got to go and put some effort in myself. I just miss everyone," he said.

“I feel terrible about the whole situation. I can’t take back what I’ve done, but I can fix the things ahead of me,” Hopkins said, adding he was also working on a restorative justice plan.

Calling Hopkins’ comments “very well said,” Judge Koturbash said he accepted Hopkins was sincere about turning his life around, but added it would be an “uncalculated roll of the dice” to allow Hopkins back into the community without treatment.

He advised Hopkins to insist to correctional authorities he get into a treatment program, so that he might return to court at the end of his sentence to apply to have some probation conditions lifted.

The judge sentenced Hopkins to 270 days. With time served, he has 76 days remaining.

Hopkins also faces a year’s probation with strict conditions surrounding visits to his father. He will also be restricted from alcohol use and must participate in a restorative justice program.

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