Defendant, 20, now serving six years
Lack of input from the defendant’s parents disturbed Justice Charles Quin, who sentenced Devon Wright on Monday to three years imprisonment for two counts of handling stolen goods. He made the term partly concurrent with a previous sentence of four years, for a total of six years.
For this matter, which involved two laptop computers stolen in residential night time burglaries, sentencing had been delayed so that Justice Quin could have a social inquiry report for Wright. The probation officer preparing the report included useful information, but overall it made for depressing reading, the judge indicated.
“What is particularly disturbing is that despite attempts to contact the defendant’s parents, they could not be reached to verify or supplement any information,” Justice Quin said.
He added, “It has been said before, but it still bears repeating: it is this apathy, and total lack of concern for the welfare of their children, shown by parents, that is one of the major reasons for the high level of serious crime committed by young persons in the last two or three years.”
Wright was sentenced to four years imprisonment in August 2011 after being found guilty of burglary and damage to property in what was referred to as a ram-raid of a grocery store on Mary Street. He had been on bail for that charge when these handling offences were committed in May 2011. The laptops were valued at $800 and $1,090; one of them was a gift, which meant there was sentimental value to the loser as well as financial.
Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson, who prosecuted the most recent matter, reported in a pre-sentence hearing that Wright had 11 previous convictions, nine for burglary, since 2009. She said courts had tried other approaches with Wright, such as a community service order, probation and short terms of imprisonment ranging from 56 to 98 days. They did not seem to have a deterrent effect, she noted.
Defence attorney John Furniss was the one who suggested a partly-concurrent sentence. “How much longer do you add for someone his age?” he asked.
The judge asked about Wright’s consumption of ganja. The young man had admitted smoking the illegal substance since he was 12 and said he smoked 10 to 15 spliffs per day. “He is not prepared to discontinue his drug use,” the judge said, referring to the social inquiry report.
“How much of that is bravado and how much is foolishness?” Mr. Furniss replied. He said Wright had been involved with people sentenced for criminality, as well as being involved in his own criminality.
Justice Quin said the social inquiry showed that Wright was “clearly bright, knowledgeable and full of potential,” but scored high on a risk assessment scale, which put him at 100 per cent probability of committing a new crime leading to conviction within one year of release.
Now 20, Wright had to be responsible for his actions, the judge said. In view of the fact that Wright was sentenced to four years imprisonment for crimes committed near in time to these handling offences, the court could invoke the principle of totality. Therefore, one year of the new sentence was made concurrent with the previous term, while two years will be consecutive.
Mr. Furniss advised the court that Wright had been looking at an early release date in 2014. The new sentence would add at least 16 months to that, based on the usual one-third off for good behaviour.
At the trial, which Wright chose to be by judge alone, he was found not guilty of the burglaries themselves, as there was no physical evidence such as fingerprints. However, he was at his uncle’s house within hours of the burglaries and his uncle’s evidence was that Wright brought the laptops with him.