By Peggy Revell on March 21, 2017.
The courts sentenced a young man to nine months in jail Monday for more than a dozen break and enters at rural commercial properties.
The sentence was a joint submission from Crown and defence counsel for Cole Rath, 24, who pled guilty to the break and enters and thefts that took place over a seven-month period in 2014.
Rath and a co-accused were arrested in late November 2014, after Redcliff RCMP responded to a suspicious vehicle on a rural road. While conducting a vehicle stop, police noted the truck tires and Rath’s shoes were similar to tire and shoe tracks left at the scene of break and enters.
Rath admitted to police about committing the various break and enters, including ones that police had not known about.
These incidents included stealing numerous items — tools, wire, electronics, fuel, generators and more — mainly from rural commercial properties.
One incident included the theft of tools and copper wire from storage containers at the site where the City of Medicine Hat was erecting wind turbines.
When given a chance to address the court, Rath apologized to all the victims he had wronged.
“I was very mixed up at the time and didn’t realize it,” he said.
Rath “lacked insight into the impact of the offences,” said defence counsel Lyndon Heidinger, but once taken into custody by police he was honest with them, even directing them to other incidents not on the radar.
The break and enters were done to feed a substance abuse problem, said Heidinger, which has stemmed back to Rath’s youth. As well, there was undiagnosed mental health issues. Rath has been taking steps to address these issues, said Heidinger, so he can return to the community upon his release.
A number of the stolen items were recovered by police, while Rath will also be aiming to pay back about $18,000 toward the victims, as per a compensation order.
Crown told the court that in cases similar to this one, the range of sentencing can be anywhere from six months to three or four years — but cases which are at the two-year sentencing mark, the accused has had a significant criminal record for property-related crimes.
This is not the case for Rath, said the Crown, whose record includes only one breach of his release conditions.
Co-accused Kurtis Baumgardt entered guilty pleas and was sentenced in October to two years in jail for the break and enters — although this sentence also included time for a charge of oxycodine trafficking.
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