He broke into home of West Kelowna fire evacuees, but no evidence he was the thief | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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He broke into home of West Kelowna fire evacuees, but no evidence he was the thief

Niso Kamhakoataew was found not guilty of theft despite his fingerprints being found in a West Kelowna home that was broken into during the 2014 Smith Creek wildfire.
December 16, 2016 - 12:57 PM

WEST KELOWNA – As firefighters fought to save properties threatened by the 2014 Smith Creek wildfire, a drunken 20-year-old broke into the home of one of the displaced families.

Niso Kamhakoataew admits he was extremely intoxicated July 18, 2014 when, after a bush party, he broke into a private home in the 2500 block of Cobblestone Road while the neighbourhood was under wildfire evacuation orders. He was charged with breaking and entering and theft when the homeowners found between 10 and 15 bottles of wine missing, a jewelry box emptied and other items around the house out of place. The lock to the front door was also broken and two duffel bags were found on the patio.

In Kelowna Supreme Court today, Dec. 16, Kamhakoataew appeared before Justice Peter Rogers who ruled that despite police finding Kamhakoataew’s fingerprints on the sliding glass door, jewelry box and liquor bar, a second, unidentified set of prints made it impossible to know who the thief was.

Kamhakoataew told police he drank up to 20 ounces of hard liquor over a four- or five-hour period that night and doesn’t remember being in the Cobblestone house at all.

He woke up in a field behind a Wal-Mart at 6:30 a.m. the next day, July 19, 2014.

“The point of this case is whether the evidence establishes Mr. Kamhakoataew stole the bottles of wine,” Rogers said. “A thief or thieves could have broke into the house the day before or after. Two duffel bags were found. It is at least likely that whoever broke into the bedroom was carrying the duffel bags.”

He found Kamhakoataew guilty of unlawfully being in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime and will be sentenced mid-January. He has no criminal record.

A charge of breaking and entering carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, with the normal range falling between nine months and five years.

- This story was corrected at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16. Kamhakoataew was charged with breaking and entering and theft, but convicted of unlawfully being in a dwelling with intent to commit.

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