Vernon man who stole $1,400 in cheese was at 'confluence of addiction and poverty' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon man who stole $1,400 in cheese was at 'confluence of addiction and poverty'

December 08, 2020 - 7:00 AM

A former truck driver from Vernon who stole $1,400 worth of cheese from a West Kelowna grocery store, was spared a criminal record once the details of his situation were revealed.

The 51-year-old former truck driver was granted a conditional discharge and will serve probation because of the circumstances that led to the theft.

The man, who iNFOnews.ca has opted not to identify, had been prescribed Oxycodone for pain since a car accident as a youth.
Seven years ago, doctors cut him off and refused to refill his prescription. He turned to heroin.

"Like so many people, you were treated for pain with Oxycodone," B.C. Provincial Court Judge Dennis Morgan said. "I don't know how many times I've heard that that's led to an addiction issue, and it did for you."

In Vernon provincial court today, Morgan heard that in early March, the man tried walking out of the deli section at Save-on-Foods with two five-kilogram blocks of cheese, each valued between $600 and $700.

Defence lawyer Nicholas Jacob described the theft as the "confluence of poverty and addiction” for a man who had no previous criminal record.

Up until two years ago, he worked full-time as a long haul truck driver. The same injury that caused him so much pain finally forced him to quit. He told the judge losing his job had thrown him "through a loop."

The Vernon resident now lives on a government disability payment of between $1,200 and $1,600 a month.

Jacob said his client was struggling with a relapse at the time of the offence but had been sober for seven months.

The court heard how he'd been married for almost 25 years and had four children, two of whom were still at school, while his older children lived in the Lower Mainland and had career jobs.

He told the judge since his arrest he'd "turned his life around" and sought counselling for his addiction, and spent six weeks cooking for a soup kitchen.

Pointing to a lack of criminal record and long work history, Judge Morgan granted the 51-year-old a conditional discharge, meaning if he keeps the peace during his 12 months’ probation, he will not have a criminal record.

The judge also ordered a standalone restitution order for $1,400 separate from any probation conditions.

Judge Morgan said Save-on-Foods could pursue the debt through the small claims court if they chose to do so.

The man was also banned from Save-On-Foods in Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Lake Country.


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