A Penticton man will spend about 23 more months in jail for a break-and-enter with nine firearms stolen from a Summerland house, which were never recovered by police.
Jeffery Doucet was before the court Monday afternoon for a sentencing hearing on charges of break-and-enter, possession of stolen property over $5,000, two counts of possession of stolen property under and one count of possession of a controlled substance.
Police got a call on Feb. 28, 2017 to the house just before 2 p.m. from a contractor who was at the house to provide a quote on building a sundeck and knew the owners were gone.
“(The contractor) informed police that he noticed a small, black two-door car with engine running in the driveway of the residence when he came to the residence,” Crown lawyer Andrew Vandersluys said. “As he got out of his vehicle, the suspect, later identified as Mr. Doucet, came running around the corner of the building with an armload of property, jumped into his car and sped across the lawn, through the perimeter fence and over the irrigation box, onto the road.”
Penticton RCMP’s forensic unit identified fingerprints on a gun safe that had been moved from its spot in the house and opened with a key that was found in another room, and those prints were later matched with Doucet.
Among the items gone from the house were nine long guns, all registered, ammunition, hunting bows, a hunting licence and numerous hunting equipment items. A large amount of jewelry was also taken, including rings, pearls and a watch; passports were found to be missing, as well as en entire drawer from a dresser.
The drawer and passports were found later that day by a dog walker in Summerland, but Judge Gregory Koturbash took a particularly grave stance on the fact that the nine guns have never been recovered.
Doucet was arrested on March 2 last year, when police got a call to the neighbourhood of Kilwinning Street, where the caller said numerous people were “going in and out of several yards.”
Upon attending, an RCMP officer approached a vehicle, and among those inside, Doucet identified himself. Doucet, determined to be arrestable in connection with the break-and-enter, he was arrested at the scene, and among his items, police found jewelry and a gold bar in his backpack.
Doucet was also found to be in possession of items from another break-and-enter in which the victim said a man was found to be in the house at 3 a.m. with a long gun while the owner was home, though police could not concretely tie Doucet to the break-and-enter itself.
In his defence, lawyer Michael Patterson argued Doucet had attempted to get treatment for his addiction, but the death of his girlfriend’s young daughter had pushed him back into the addictions spiral.
Patterson said Doucet was willing to help police find the stolen items, something Patterson sought to clarify was not brought about by any sort of deal for better treatment, but, he said, out of sympathetic insight into the crime, something considered to be a mitigating factor when sentencing.
“Don’t offer it to me, and don’t offer it to the Crown. Pick up the phone and call the police,” Koturbash shot back.
The matter also almost went to a sentencing trial after Patterson suggested Doucet was not admitting guilt to stealing the firearms from the Summerland home.
“As far as Mr. Doucet, my instructions are concerned, he didn’t steal those firearms, but he knows of their whereabouts, and he’s willing to assist the court with the recovery of the firearms and the jewelry,” Patterson said.
“This is a surprise to me, your honour,” Vandersluys countered. “Mr. Doucet is charged with break-and-enter, where it’s been clear from day one that the primary concern has been theft of the firearms in the course of that break-and-enter. He is the person whose fingerprints were found on the gun safe.”
However, as Koturbash suggested the issue could be pushed to a trial, Patterson backed down, saying his guilty pleas stand on the charges he was currently facing.
While Crown sought a sentence of two years for the break-and-enter and 90 days for the remainder of the charges, defence asked for 16 months maximum.
After time served, Doucet was sentenced to 599 days in jail for the break-and-enter and 90 days for the reminder of the charges, making a total of 689 days.
Doucet is also ordered to pay back just under $20,000 to the owners of the Summerland house.