PICTOU – A local provincial court judge sent a message Wednesday that people who are guilty of property crimes had better be prepared to do some time.
Judge Del Atwood said during the sentencing hearing of Ernest Paul Majcan, 20, who pleaded guilty to 13 charges related to car-surfing, that these types of crimes are no longer going be to categorized on the low end.
“Car-surfing offences shatter people’s confidence in the safety of their community,” he said. “There was time in Pictou County where people could leave the doors of their homes unlocked. There was a time in Pictou County when people could leave the doors of their vehicles unlocked the keys in the ignition and everything would remain untouched. Now that is simply not the case.”
Atwood said the rash of car-surfing cases before him has been steadily increasing so a “remarkable and significant message” of deterrence needs to be sent.
This is the not the first time Atwood has referenced the increase in property crimes in the county since he has taken on the job of provincial court judge, but lately he has taken steps to impose heavier sentences than what the Crown had been seeking.
In this case, the Crown had asked the judge to consider a one-year conditional sentence order for Majcan who broke into several vehicles in New Glasgow this past summer. Some of the vehicles had their soft tops damaged or their windows broken during the incidents while coins and other items were taken.
The defence argued that Majcan had learned his lesson because the court process has been very stressful for him and his family. He said his client has taken steps to better his life and that if granted a conditional sentence order, he would be under the strict supervision of his parents.
His mother told Atwood that her son now has a better relationship with his siblings and is focusing on getting a job while Majcan also apologized to the court.
Atwood said he didn’t doubt that Majcan was remorseful for his actions, but he didn’t believe a one-year conditional sentence would send the right message to the public.
“Offences of this nature will not be tolerated in this community,” he said.
He told Majcan that he would sentenced to a two-year conditional sentence which includes six months’ house arrest. Once the house arrest was completed, he was going to be placed on a strict curfew for the remaining time and if any of the restrictions were violated, he could find himself back in court and behind bars.
Majcan must also pay $500 restitution to six vehicle owners as well as $650 in victim surcharges.
After Majcan left the court, Atwood turned his attention to another case involving property crimes in the Pictou Marina.
A sentencing hearing for Paul Ivan Jeans Jr. was held earlier this week, but Atwood reserved his decision after hearing submissions from the Crown and defence who varied greatly on the amount of time Jeans Jr. should serve in custody.
The Crown had asked for one year in jail, but Atwood said Wednesday that he is considering a sentence of two years in federal prison.
Jeans, who pleaded guilty to breaking into 11 boats this fall at the Pictou Marina and two breaches of court orders, will remain remanded in custody until his next court appearance on Dec. 5.
The adjournment will give both the Crown and defence time to research case law and make further submissions on the sentencing next week.
A similar adjournment was called for earlier Wednesday afternoon when a youth appeared before the court on charges of possession of stolen property. Once again, Atwood said he would welcome submissions by both the Crown and defence since he was considering a lengthier sentence than those recommended by the Crown and defence.