Theft turns probation into jail time

Two years of probation for Patrick Noel Watler, 47, turned into a 30-month prison sentence after he pleaded guilty last week to theft along the waterfront on Dec. 3.

Magistrate Grace Donalds had placed Watler on probation on March 13.

In the most recent incident, Watler stole a bag from a stall at the Craft Market on North Church Street. The bag, valued at $18, contained US$130 and CI$40.

The summary of facts provided in court stated that the salesperson at the stall had sold a black coral necklace and earrings to a couple. When the customers walked away, she realized they had left the earrings. She went to give them the jewelry and left the bag unattended. As she returned, she saw Watler taking up the bag and putting it in his waist.

She called out, but he ran. She called for help and another worker at the market came to her aid. The man pursued Watler, caught him and held him until police arrived.

Defense attorney John Furniss described the theft as opportunistic. He said Watler had been doing well, having been in a rehabilitation program for a lengthy period, which was why the magistrate placed him on probation. Conditions had included random urine tests and attendance at Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Watler had been staying at a halfway house, where he was contributing and doing well. When the time limit for him was reached, he left. When work slacked off, Watler got into trouble, the attorney indicated.

The two-year probation was imposed for a December 2012 burglary at Buttonwood Club, in which liquor valued at $2,000 was stolen.

On March 26, 2013, Watler stole a donation can for “Feed Our Future” from the counter of Burger King on West Bay Road. Two days later, he stole a donation can from the counter of Burger King on North Church Street. When he was arrested, he said he did it because of his drug habit and he wanted to pay back the money.

For these two thefts, the sentences were concurrent with the burglary.

After considering the circumstances of the latest theft, the magistrate added a consecutive sentence after changing the probation order to imprisonment.

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