VERNON - A Vernon judge said it was sadly “not surprising” that a petty criminal addicted to heroin and fentanyl found himself back before the courts.
Sheldon Donald Lee Veness, 24, was sentenced today, July 31, for property-related crimes, credit card fraud and breaches of recognizance.
The offences include two break-and-enters, one on July 23, 2016 and another on Dec. 10, 2016, plus possession of stolen property related to a vehicle theft in December 2016. He also faced fraud and possession of stolen credit card charges stemming from the July 23 break-and-enter. Police officers tracked him down through video surveillance, transaction records at Money Mart, and even through the distinct footprints left by his Nike Shox sneakers.
Judge Dennis Morgan said Veness came before the court with an “unenviable criminal conviction history” including two prior break-and-enters, multiple cases of possession of stolen property, and theft.
In a separate and unrelated case, Veness is charged with trafficking fentanyl and cocaine. He next appears in Vernon Provincial Court Sept. 29 on those charges.
Court heard today that Veness had a difficult upbringing in and out of foster care, and developed an addiction to heroin and recently to fentanyl. He worked as a drug dealer to support his habit, but has had periods of sobriety and hopes to complete a recovery program during his incarceration, defence lawyer Nick Jacob said.
Crown counsel Juan O’Quinn argued for a 38-month federal jail sentence, stating that a strong message needed to be sent to the offender.
“When you continue down this path you will be punished at a more elevated rate,” O’Quinn said.
He also said a message must be sent to the community that when homes are broken into and personal credit card details taken, people will be punished.
Of 16 counts overall, Veness pleaded guilty to 10 and the remaining counts were stayed. O’Quinn said the guilty plea saved court time, and excused witnesses and RCMP officers from having to testify.
“It’s not surprising, sadly, that at age (24), he does come before the court with this history related to an addiction with drugs. That’s not saying his background is a justification, but I suppose it makes it less surprising," Morgan said.
Judge Morgan sentenced Veness to a total of 27 months in jail in a provincial institution. With credit for time served, he has another 15-and-a-half months. It’s possible he will be able to serve some of the time at an in-custody recovery centre.
Veness must also pay just over $1,100 in restitution to the owner of the stolen vehicle.
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