Crimes included two car thefts, break-in, arson and thefts
Prince County Courthouse.
SUMMERSIDE — A teen escaped custody shortly after being convicted Tuesday morning of a long list of crimes, including a break-in at a Miminegash convenience store earlier this month.
The 17-year-old from western Prince County had been sentenced in Summerside youth court to 50 days in open custody late in the morning.
Then, at 12:05, city police were called to the P.E.I. Youth Centre located on Greenwood Drive in Summerside after the young man escaped.
Chief David Poirier couldn’t comment on how the teen had escaped.
“He was in court this morning where he was sentenced to five months custody. That’s all I know. They were RCMP charges, not ours,” said Poirier. “As to how he got away, we’re not giving the details unless the province wants to give you the details.”
Youth centre staff contacted police about the escapee. Within 30 minutes, police located the teen in the Mill Crescent area and a foot chase ensued.
Within minutes, he was back in police custody without incident.
The teen now faces charges of escaping custody.
Before his escape, earlier in court, Judge Jeff Lantz said the teen’s crimes defied explanation.
As he was sentenced, the teen, in custody since Sept. 7, sat at the defence table, his hands cuffed and legs shackled, weeping uncontrollably as he was handed what was described as a hefty sentence for the youth court.
“What the heck was going on here? This is just mind boggling,” said Lantz, referring to the teen’s weeklong crime spree. “There is a wanton disrespect for other people’s property.
The teen is no stranger to the courts, convicted previously on charges of arson, assault, mischief, uttering threats and breaching probation. He was on probation when he committed his latest crimes.
Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to: four thefts from vehicles, six counts of damage to property, theft of a purse, breaching probation, two vehicle thefts, arson and two counts of break and enter.
The teen’s crime spree began on Aug. 31 and ended Sept. 7.
It was on Sept. 7 that the teen got into the biggest trouble. A break-in was reported at Deagle’s Quik Mart in Miminegash. Entry was gained through the two-by-two-foot drive through window.
The teen was caught on surveillance stealing cash and $1,322 worth of cigarettes.
That same night, he stole two vehicles. The first was a 1995 Pontiac from a parking lot on Main Street in O’Leary. He took the car joyriding, picking up friends, before dumping it at an abandoned gravel pit in Mount Royal.
The damage estimate was $1,734.
A second vehicle was later reported stolen from O’Leary — a 2005 Malibu. The teen used the car in the break-in at Deagle’s Quik Mart and later set it on fire at the O’Leary dump. The estimate on damage wasn’t available but is believed to be in the thousands.
The teen was arrested that night and has been in custody since.
The first incident happened in the Tignish area, where a home that was being renovated was broken into and substantial damage done.
The teen was one of a group of teens that had broken into the property, set off fire extinguishers, which covered the downstairs and upstairs in a powdery residue, and used paint to cause other damage.
The damage estimate is $4,336.
He was also charged in connection with thefts from vehicles in Tignish on Aug. 31 and, that same night, damaging property by throwing a rock through a windown and urinating in one of the cars that was broken into.
On Sept. 4, the young man and a woman stole a purse containing $20 from a mentally challenged woman. The purse was recovered seven days later.
Crown attorney John Diamond recommended a sentence totalling almost six month in open custody — where there is minimal use of security devices and perimeter security and can be served in group home — followed by 95 days of community supervision and two years of probation.
Defence attorney Jonathan Matters disagreed.
“He described what he did as stupid,” said Matters, adding that his client had been upset about his recent breakup with his long-time girlfriend when the crimes occurred. “Simply put, this is a young person who went off the rails for a weeklong period. This is going to be his first significant time in custody.”
The defence attorney suggested three months in open custody.
“Other sentences imposed haven’t worked,” said Lantz in handing down his sentence. “He is still a youth… but there’s got to be consequences to such actions as this.”
Lantz sentenced the teen to serve 134 days in closed custody — a more secure facility — followed by 62 days of community supervision. Once complete, the teen will be on probation for two years, during which time he must undergo assessment, counselling and treatment for any addictions or mental health issues and stay away from his victims.
He must pay $1,322 in restitution to Deagle’s Quik Mart, $500 restitution for damage to the home that was being renovated, $20 to the owner of the stolen purse and restitution, as determined by his probation officer, for the thefts from vehicles and the damage to the stolen vehicles.