Counsel argued whether a break and enter should be considered a home invasion, and what that could potentially mean for sentencing.
The arguments arose in Estevan provincial court on Monday, during a sentencing hearing for Dustin Persson, who had been found guilty of break and enter and committing an indictable offence therein. Crown prosecutor Mitch Crumley was asking Persson be sentenced to a penitentiary jail term of greater than two years, while Lori Dunford, Persson’s lawyer, suggested a probation order and no time spent in jail. A pre-sentence report was prepared before Monday’s appearance.
Persson was charged after breaking into a house early one morning and assaulting a man. Persson’s wife, who he was separated from at the time, was at the residence.
He broke down the front door and the bedroom door before striking the male victim 25 to 30 times in the head. There was about $850 of damage done to the house.
“This is a home invasion by definition,” said Crumley in his submissions to presiding Judge Karl Bazin. “The person’s home is their castle. This is a place that should be sacred. Things like this break and enter, home invasion kind of things, shouldn’t be happening in people’s houses.”
He added that people should feel secure in their homes and that incidents of assault like the one seen in this matter leave victims more vulnerable.
“Once you’re off the street and inside someone’s residence, pretty much anything can happen. It’s outside of the public view. The risk of the homeowner goes up significantly, because it’s not subject to people driving by or passersby calling police.”
Dunford noted the pre-sentence report placed Persson in the eighth percentile of likelihood to re-offend, and that his only risk factors are his age and gender. She cited a recent decision from a couple of months ago at Estevan’s courthouse that had similar circumstances. It was an incident in which the victim was removed from his house and then tarred and feathered. That incident didn’t lead to any jail time, though more serious charges were laid against Persson.
“We have better facts, and a pre-sentence report that shows he’s such a low-risk to reoffend, but we have (the Crown) asking for a penitentiary (term). (To keep faith) in our judicial system, we need to have parity.”
Bazin asked how to balance parity when the charges are more severe, even if the circumstances could be considered less so. He noted the responsibility of laying charges rest solely with the Crown. Persson faces the more serious charges in which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life.
Bazin said in sentencing he must look at both the facts as well as the charge.
Crumley added that the Crown is seeking a 10-year firearms prohibition for Persson and requesting he provide a DNA sample.
The matter will return for a decision on June 28.
In other court proceedings, Edward Shepherd pleaded guilty to three counts of break and enter on the White Bear Reserve.
Shepherd had recently been released from jail, following a 12-month sentence. Crumley noted the 27-year-old has about 50 criminal convictions and about 25 previous property offences. These most recent charges stem from June 6, where Shepherd went to several cabins and kicked in the front doors.
There was no other damage nor any items stolen. Crumley asked for a sentence of between 18 and 24 months, while Shepherd’s Legal Aid lawyer asked for 15 months as a slight elevation from his previous 12-month sentence.
Bazin reserved his decision to June 25.