A provincial court judge will take time to consider recommendations to the court to determine if a 61-year-old man should serve a federal jail sentence or probation for break and enter.
Pictou Provincial Court Judge Del Atwood has reserved this decision in the sentencing of Donald J. MacDonald after hearing drastically different recommendations from the Crown and defence on the proper sentence.
The Crown is asking the court to consider a total of 33 months in federal prison after MacDonald pleaded guilty to break and enter, failing a breathalyzer and two counts of breach of recognizance.
The defence suggested a suspended sentence that would include 12 months’ probation.
MacDonald was charged after New Glasgow Regional Police received a call on Jan. 11, 2017, of a break and enter into a Provost Street apartment.
The caller said he tried entering his mother’s apartment with a key at about 11 p.m. but his key wouldn’t work in the lock and he noticed there was damage to the door frame and striker plate.
The man said MacDonald opened the door and was partially unclothed and introduced himself as “Don” who was a friend of his mother and she had invited him into the apartment. The man left the apartment and called his mother who told him she had locked the door behind her when she left and didn’t know anyone by the name of Don.
After he finished speaking with his mother, the man went back to the apartment and confronted him again with his mother on speakerphone who told him to leave her residence. When the woman who rents the apartment arrived home about 20 minutes later with police she noticed several items had been moved around including pictures in the living and towels in the bathroom and her bedding was messy.
The woman said she didn’t know anyone by the name of Don and that she only remembered an older man holding a door open for her recently when she entered the building. Police soon discovered that MacDonald was a superintendent there and resided in the building. Officers also recognized a necklace and pendant he had in his possession recently when he was a victim of assault a few weeks earlier. The necklace was similar to one reported missing from the woman’s apartment and MacDonald’s DNA was found on it.
Upon his arrest, MacDonald told police he’d broke in after drinking 10 beers. He forced his way into the woman’s apartment, thinking she was home and wanting to talk to her. He told police he knew what he did was wrong and asked them to apologize for him.
Crown attorney Patrick Young presented the court with many previous cases that resulted in prison sentences ranging from two to three years for breaking and entering into a dwelling.
He also told the court that many of the cases involved a person who was intoxicated at the time of the offences and courts have ruled that being drunk doesn’t lessen a person’s degree of responsibility.
The Crown also read comments from a victim impact statement which described the victim’s fear for safety by always looking over her shoulder and wondering if she will find another intruder in her home.
“Many of the cases may be distinguished on their facts; however, the common thread within them reveals that invasions of the sanctity of one’s home must be deterred and denounced with severe terms of imprisonment). The lack of a criminal record and positive prospects for rehabilitation take second seat. Denunciation, deterrence, and the protection of the public mandate significant sentences,” said Young.
He asked the court to consider a total sentence of 33 months.
Defence lawyer Doug Lloy said his client has experienced childhood tragedy and has struggled with alcohol abuse. However, he was able to maintain steady employment until his retirement in 2016 and sought out alcohol addiction treatment shortly after this arrest.
“I want to express my complete remorse for my actions,” MacDonald told the court. “I have taken steps to improve my myself. I am committed to the program and it changed my life. I don’t want to go back to who I was.”
Atwood will deliver his sentencing decision March 29.