PENTICTON - A Penticton man whose lawyer told court his client's struggles to obey the law were due to problems through no fault of his own received sympathy from a Penticton judge today.
John Joseph Alfred Antoine, 19, entered guilty pleas in Penticton court today, April 10 for a break and enter that took place in Okanagan Falls last year and two subsequent breaches.
Defence lawyer Tyrone Duerr said his client’s involvement in the break and enter happened “as a lark.” He said Antoine’s difficulties stemmed from birth when his 17-year-old mother consumed alcohol and drugs during her pregnancy.
Crown Prosecutor Ann Lerechs was seeking a six month jail term and 18 months probation after recounting the circumstances of Antoine’s crimes, the first being his involvement in the break and enter that occurred early on May 30, 2016.
RCMP were called to a McLean Creek Road modular home park around 2:52 a.m., after a neighbour heard Antoine and his foster brother ransacking a trailer she knew to be unoccupied. Police arrived with a police dog, knocked on the door of the trailer and demanded the two come out.
Antoine and his accomplice exited the residence and were arrested. Inside, police found a Cooey .22 rifle, belonging to the occupant, propped near the door. The two men’s backpacks were searched. Police found rum, a crowbar, a wallet, chequebook and keys to the trailer, all belonging to the owner, in the packs.
Antoine was arrested and released under bail conditions that included a curfew.
On Aug. 17, 2016, police conducting a curfew check on Antoine’s residence found him absent. On Nov. 1, Antoine failed to report to his bail supervisor, and on Nov. 21 a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Lerechs said Antoine’s pre-sentence report was “not a positive one,” while also noting his difficult childhood. She said his inability to adhere to community supervision was an issue, asking Judge Gale Sinclair for a six month jail term for the break and enter and an 18 month probationary period along with a suspended sentence for the two breaches.
Duerr said his client had a difficult time keeping appointments and dealing with the system, having had little stability in his life. He noted his client had made it to grade 11 before being kicked out of school for wearing spurs.
Antoine’s foster father also spoke to the judge, saying Antoine struggled at first when arriving at his house, but in the three intervening years he “had gained a son.”
Social worker Scott Gagnon told court Antoine "failed to understand cause and effect.” He said a jail term would only see the man manipulated by others in the system.
Judge Sinclair noted Crown’s position saying, “They see a break and enter, and they say someone has to go to jail.”
But the judge also said Antoine’s pre-sentence report placed him in the fifth per centile of the general population for overall adaptive functioning, also noting Antoine’s issues stemmed from fetal alcohol syndrome.
Sinclair said Antoine’s 12 foster families and 32 placements over the years was “not a good situation.”
“I would be remiss in my duties if I placed him in jail. No good would come of it,” he said, giving Antoine a suspended sentence and 18 months probation with conditions.
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