Burglar left clues that led to arrests

Defendant appeals seven-year sentence as harsh and excessive

Owners of two burgled homes found clues that led to the arrest of Donald Calvin Hooker, who was sentenced on Friday to 84 months’ imprisonment for five offenses involving the property of others, and one traffic charge.

“That’s very harsh and excessive,” Hooker told Magistrate Philippa McFarlane, who imposed a series of concurrent and consecutive terms. One of his complaints was that the magistrate had considered his previous convictions when she listed the aggravating and mitigating factors in each incident.

He pointed out that he had served his sentences for previous offenses, but “they are going to haunt me.” He gave notice of appeal through attorney John Furniss.

Crown counsel Eleanor Fargin earlier set out details of Hooker’s offending in chronological order. The dates of the offenses did not always correspond with the dates of the charges because of the time it took to analyze the clues Hooker left behind.

On Sept. 30, 2012, a man left his vehicle locked and secured in a parking lot on North Church Street. When he returned at 5 p.m. the right front window had been smashed; three rings and two cellphones had been taken. There were blood stains inside the vehicle that appeared fresh, so scenes of crime officers attended.

In April 2015, Hooker’s DNA was found to correspond with DNA from the blood stains.

Arrested and interviewed, Hooker said he did not remember the incident, but he acknowledged being heavily intoxicated and committing crimes to feed his drug habit. He pleaded guilty in May 2015.

The burglary of a Bodden Town residence was committed on Jan. 15, 2013. The home was left secure in the morning, but when one of the occupants returned home at 4 p.m., he observed that the blinds on the front door were broken. He checked and found that a laptop, valued at $1,000, was missing along with a camera, jewelry and passports. A T-shirt and pouch were found; they did not belong to the couple who lived there and so were pointed out to police.

DNA from the T-shirt was found to correspond with Hooker’s DNA and he was arrested. In April 2015, he initially denied owning the shirt or pouch. Shown photos, he said he recalled going into the house to steal, but little else. He pleaded guilty in May 2015.

The next burglary occurred Nov. 5-6, 2014, at a private dwelling in North Side. The house was undergoing renovation and was not occupied. The man working on the house had secured it the night before; the next morning he found a side door broken open.

Items stolen, including tools, were valued at $9,935.

When the owner looked around the property he found two uncapped, partially full bottles of water. He did not buy that brand, so he brought the bottle to the attention of police.

The DNA profile from one of the bottles corresponded to Hooker’s DNA. Interviewed in April 2015, Hooker said he had been at the residence about four years previously, when he took drugs with someone named Larry. The owner did not know any Larry. Hooker pleaded guilty on June 30, 2015.

A month later he pleaded guilty to theft from the Red Cross donation deposit box at the charity’s headquarters on Huldah Avenue. Police found shoes, clothes and electronics in the vehicle Hooker was driving on March 15, 2015, after a witness “saw a man’s head come out of the donations box” and then the man drove off with items, Ms. Fargin said.

The final charge was attempted burglary and criminal trespass, committed on Aug. 21, 2015. Hooker pleaded guilty to trespass and that plea was accepted.

Ms. Fargin advised that Hooker had 65 previous convictions, including burglary, other dishonesty and drug-related offenses. In the cases before the court, nothing was recovered, she said.

Although the Summary Court is limited on most cases to sentences of four years, it was open to the magistrate to impose consecutive sentences, she pointed out.

Mr. Furniss emphasized Hooker’s guilty pleas and efforts to rid himself of his addiction, including time in the Drug Rehabilitation Court. At one stage Hooker had been given conditional bail so that he could attend a halfway house. He was on a curfew, had to obey all house rules, attend counseling sessions and wear an electronic monitor.

In passing sentence, the magistrate said Hooker’s record was a significant factor, but she also considered that his guilty pleas had been entered at an early stage. His record included 15 previous burglaries and 15 other offenses for dishonesty.
Referring to his social inquiry report, she said Hooker could not be seen as purely a victim of social circumstances. In the past, his pleas for assistance had been granted. At one point he was in the Caribbean Haven Rehabilitation Center, but was discharged because of poor attitude.

“At this stage, no one has the answer,” she told Hooker. “I am hopeful while you are in custody you will access and use rehabilitation services available to you.”

For the Bodden Town burglary, she started her sentence at three years, but added 12 months because of his previous convictions and three months because the offense was committed while on bail. For the guilty plea she deducted one-third of 51 months, resulting in a term of 34 months.

For the North Side burglary, she imposed 22 months and made it consecutive because it was a separate offense committed at a different time.

For theft from the Red Cross, she added 12 months consecutive, saying it was a callous thing to do and she did not care about the value of items stolen.

For the criminal trespass she imposed eight months; for theft from the car, six months.

Terms of imprisonment for traffic offenses were made to run concurrently, except for a second offense of driving without insurance, for which she imposed a further two months.

Confirming that the overall total was 84 months, the magistrate gave Hooker credit for time in custody.