Burglar only opened the door

Mr. Justice Alex Henderson dismissed the appeal of a sentence for burglary after hearing that the defendant’s role was trying a door and opening it.

While keeping Dorlee Ann Wright’s sentence at two years, the judge also observed that burglary has become a persistent, endemic problem that may have to be addressed by more severe sentences.

In presenting the appeal last Friday, Attorney Menelik Miller said Wright’s guilty plea was on the basis that she had not gone into the house.

The background to the burglary was that Wright had gone with a co-defendant to visit a friend in the area shortly after 8am. Apparently the friend was not home.

Wright tried the door to the victim’s house and it opened. She looked inside and saw a handbag. She told her companion and he went into the house and took the bag.

Mr. Menelik agreed that burglary is a serious offence, but in this case there was no damage, no confrontation, no violence and no professional planning.

He called it an opportunistic burglary, with Wright receiving $10 for her role.

Crown Counsel George Keightley told the court that the owner of the purse had been home at the time. She was upstairs and thought it was her son opening the door.

When she went downstairs, she saw the door open and a black car leaving. She wrote down the licence plate number and police were able to trace the defendants through it.

The purse had contained a wallet with $80 and credit cards.

Mr. Keightley said the magistrate’s remarks on sentencing contained references to Wright’s previous convictions, including drug matters.

Mr. Justice Henderson detailed these factors in his decision. He said Wright’s record had to be taken into account. She said she wished to free herself from the pernicious effects of drug addiction, but she had no fewer than 12 previous failures to comply with court orders or conditions of probation in that regard.

Given Wright’s record, the fact that this case involved a residential burglary and the recent increase in reports of burglary, the judge could not say that the magistrate’s sentence was wrong. The magistrate had said three years and then given a one-year discount for the guilty plea.

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