PICTOU – A New Glasgow man accused of home invasion has been found guilty of a lesser charge.
Robert Douglas MacInnis was charged with break-and-enter into a dwelling with intent to commit assault on March 4, 2013, in Trenton. He entered guilty pleas to a mischief charge in connection to incidents on the same night that included damaging a vehicle and damage in Falconer’s home.
In rendering his decision Thursday in Pictou provincial court, Judge Del Atwood said there wasn’t enough evidence to support a guilty verdict in the break-and-enter charge, but he found MacInnis guilty of a lesser charge of unlawfully being in a dwelling house with the intent to commit an indictable offence.
The Crown argued that after receiving some upsetting news about his girlfriend having an affair with another man, MacInnis started to drink heavily with friends and later headed out to confront two men linked to the gossip.
After a stop at one home and some vandalism of a van, MacInnis and three of his friends travelled to the home of Brent Falconer in Trenton. Falconer testified that MacInnis kicked in his front door and damaged property in his home, but MacInnis testified that he was told by Falconer to come into the home.
“It is sketchy as to whether he barged in or if he was let in,” said Atwood.
The judge said it seems “highly unlikely” Falconer would have invited three unknown men into his home, one of whom was holding a baseball bat in his hand, but the lack of evidence proving that the door was kicked inward left him with reasonable doubt.
Atwood said the Crown didn’t present enough photographs that clearly depicted the damage to the door or any police evidence related to the scuff mark, which looked like a footprint, that was on the door.
In fact, he said, evidence that was presented favours the door being kicked from the inside rather than the outside.
Atwood said he believes that MacInnis was in the home to cause mischief which led to the guilty verdict on the lesser charge, but it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a break-and-enter offence.
In light of MacInnis’s verdict, a co-accused in the case, Corey Calverly, changed his pleas to match that of his brother.
Calverly was slated for trial on the same charges of break-and-enter and mischief as MacInnis, but pleaded guilty to unlawfully being in a dwelling house with the intent and mischief. A weapon-related charge was withdrawn by the Crown after the guilty pleas were entered.
Frank Crooks is charged with similar offences with upcoming court dates in Supreme Court while a fourth man, Micah Osborne, was recently found guilty of mischief in connection to the incident.
Atwood said he would like to see more cases with joint information be tried together in a reasonable and economical way.
“Separate information calls for separate trials,” he said. “I invite the prosecution and police to avoid this whenever possible.”
MacInnis and Calverly will both be sentenced in Sept. 18 in Pictou provincial court.