A P.E.I. man who came to be known as the “screencutter” after a string of break-ins and a police investigation that lasted more than a year has been granted day parole.
In a recent decision, the Parole Board of Canada imposed conditions on Richard Joseph Arsenault’s release but denied him full parole, saying his plans were premature and his credibility will need to be earned before considering a “more liberal release".
The board said it was of the opinion Arsenault wouldn’t present an undue risk to society on day parole and his release would help with his reintegration into society as a law-abiding citizen.
Arsenault was sentenced in 2016 to nine years in prison for wearing a mask while committing an offence, possessing stolen property and four counts of break and enter.
He initially pleaded not guilty and the matter went to trial before an abrupt ending when he changed his plea after several witnesses had already testified.
Those witnesses included victims whose homes Arsenault broke into through windows that had screens cut or removed.
Most of them reported an intruder stole money, and some said their children’s piggy banks were taken.
When the police searched Arsenault’s home in Traveller’s Rest they found more than $45,000.
In its report, the parole board detailed Arsenault’s criminal history that included prior convictions for armed robbery, break and enter, dangerous driving, assault causing bodily harm, drug possession and possessing a weapon.
The report said Arsenault had behavioural issues during previous sentences and received more than 30 charges from his time in custody prior to 2016, including for uttering threats, assaulting another inmate, disobeying rules and escaping from minimum security.
His behaviour during the most recent incarceration was described in the report as being appropriate with no charges received.
In its report, the board said Arsenault’s accountability and motivation were assessed as being high, his reintegration potential was rated as moderate and he was described as highly motivated to work on his correctional plan objectives.
The report said the police advised the board Arsenault was well known to them, they were concerned with public safety and they weren’t supportive of day or full parole.
In reviewing his personal circumstances, Arsenault told the board he started drinking prior to his most recent offences, was scared to reach out because he felt his supports might disown him and he continued to drink without close family members knowing.
He then started gambling and after a while began the break and enters.
While in custody, Arsenault was involved in a variety of programs and he told the board he learned to open up to people about his struggles.
Arsenault worked on upgrading his education, he went to vocational courses and attended religious programs while serving his current sentence.
The board said it believed Arsenault accepted responsibility for his actions and developed insight into his offending behaviour.
While on day parole, Arsenault will return to the Provincial Correctional Centre daily, and he will be monitored in the community.
Arsenault will also have to follow several conditions, including that he not enter any establishments where the primary source of income is from gambling.