East End burglaries admitted

Balancing the concerns of the community and the rehabilitation of the offender makes sentencing a difficult exercise, Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale said after a man admitted 10 burglaries.

James Romano Whittaker, 25, pleaded guilty last week to the charges, all of which involved premises in East End. Whittaker was residing in East End when the incidents occurred, between 28 April and 1 June.

The district public library and two residences were burgled twice in that period, the court heard.

According to Whittaker, all of the residential burglaries were at night, but the occupants were disturbed in only two instances.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey said Whittaker had to be admired for his candour. He indicated that the admissions were made because the crimes had been prompted by the defendant’s need to feed his drug habit. He wanted help and had therefore cooperated with police.

Mr. Dixey said Whittaker had been picked up on suspicion of one burglary. After three days in custody, he took officers to the other places he had burgled. Without his admissions, there was probably no evidence with which he could have been prosecuted.

The magistrate commented that the community is frustrated by the secondary problems drug use creates. People see an upsurge in violence, both in battles over turf and in offences committed by addicts out of desperation.

In the case before her, there was no allegation of violence, but victims would have apprehended a certain amount of fear, she indicated.

People want protection from offenders, the magistrate said, and she had to consider the community’s right to demand the court’s protection.

Whittaker had made contact with a drug counsellor while in custody, but a full assessment had not been carried out. The magistrate remanded him for another two weeks to get a further report before sentencing.

Items stolen in the burglaries included $75 from the United Church manse; $3 and $23.50 from the library; $25 from a residence; a cell phone from another; sun glasses from a third.

In one instance, Whittaker admitted taking $60, but denied taking any jewellery.

The largest quantity of items stolen came from one residence. Whittaker admitted a burglary on 19 May in which he took property valued at $679. On 23 May he returned and stole items valued at $709. Of these, a camera was recovered.

The only other items recovered were the cell phone and sunglasses.