Burglar caught red-handed on Skype

After money was stolen from her bedroom closet on at least two occasions, a woman used Skype to set a trap that led to the arrest of the intruder and his eventual sentencing.

Neville Agustus Marston, 23, pleaded guilty to this series of burglaries as well as a separate offense in another district. Magistrate Valdis Foldats sentenced Marston to two years and eight months in prison on Monday.

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright explained that police were called to a West Bay residence on Oct. 31, 2014, where a woman reported that money had been stolen from a cash tin hidden in her bedroom closet. The first time, between Oct. 10 and 15, $300 had been taken. The second time, between Oct. 21 and 26, $200 was taken.

In an effort to try to catch the thief, the woman put her phone on Skype and placed it in her living room. The phone was then monitored by a computer elsewhere and on Oct. 30 Marston was observed entering the house. The video obtained was emailed to police.

Marston was an ex-boyfriend of one of the woman’s daughters and he had done yard work at the premises, the court heard.

When interviewed by police, he said he had not been to the house in months. When confronted with the video, he admitted entering and going to the complainant’s closet.

Marston previously pleaded guilty to a daytime burglary in Red Bay in which he stole jewelry and electronic goods valued at $3,800.

Mr. Wainwright said the complainant in that case had returned home around 2:30 p.m. and saw some of her belongings on her bed, which was not where she had left them. She then saw three men coming out of her daughter’s room carrying a sack.

They left the premises, but a member of the public saw them get into a red car; that person got the license number and called 911.

Police found the red car and began pursuing it with emergency lights flashing. Another member of the public saw someone in the car throw a white sack toward an area of bush. The police pursuit continued, the red car crashed, and all three men were arrested.

Mr. Furniss said he did not know what had happened with the other two men. He pointed to Marston’s guilty pleas and efforts in the Drug Rehabilitation Court. He said the defendant wanted to apologize to his victims, especially the family he knew.

Marston told the court he felt bad about what he had done and wanted to make up for it by doing community service.

The magistrate pointed out that residential burglaries are so serious that the new starting point for sentences is five years.

He reviewed Marston’s history – becoming involved with drugs at age 13; drugs a serious problem by age 18; a father who died of alcohol abuse; a mother who spent time in prison.

The magistrate said Marston had spent 20 weeks at Caribbean Haven, a residential treatment program, but had “seemed to begin to sabotage the process” and was discharged. He remained in drug court until July 2015, but then did not return and a warrant for his arrest was ordered.

“You were a fugitive until you were arrested in May this year,” the magistrate reminded him.

Staying away from court for 10 months was a serious matter, the magistrate said, and he imposed a two month sentence. For the Red Bay burglary, Marston was sentenced to two years in prison. For the burglaries solved by Skype, he received six months for each of the three burglaries, to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to the Red Bay burglary, giving a total of 32 months.

***Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from the original.***