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Sex offender’s sentencing delayed due to health

Health problems have stalled an admitted sex offender’s sentence hearing.

Rene Mark Bernard Burke was to be sentenced Tuesday on a single count of touching a young person for a sexual reason and two breaches of a subsequent court order,  but his lawyer asked instead for one-week adjournment.

Defence counsel James Pennington said Burke, who was in the Penticton courthouse but not brought into the courtroom, was “loaded up on nitro. He’s got a heart problem, among other things.”

Pennington said his client has already been behind bars for 18 months and, if the Crown’s sentencing position is accepted, will stay there for awhile yet.

Provincial court Judge Meg Shaw said the public interest would be best served by dealing with the matter as soon as possible.

“The community needs to have this resolved as well,” Shaw noted, before agreeing to have the matter rescheduled to June 19.

Burke, 56, was charged in August 2011 with sexual touching, and later breached a court order that bans those accused of sex crimes involving children from communicating with people under 14 or being in a public place where kids may be present.

He pleaded guilty to the three counts at an earlier court appearance. The maximum sentence for sexual touching is 10 years’ imprisonment.

The father of Burke’s victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, said he plans to sue the Okanagan Skaha School District, which was allegedly convinced that Burke was the boy’s legal guardian.

 

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