June 23rd, 2018

Dine and dash nets jail time for city man

By Peggy Revell on February 27, 2017.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

In a rare occurrence, a Medicine Hat man has received jail time for dining and dashing.

Nicholas Belanger, age 28, entered a guilty plea Monday after a September incident where he took friends to a local restaurant with the promise to treat them to a meal, but left without paying the $210 tab.

“It’s more of a nuisance crime rather than grand theft auto,” said the Crown prosecutor Kelly Payne, Monday at the Medicine Hat courthouse, but such crimes are detrimental to local businesses she said. Citing Belanger’s criminal record of frauds and thefts, “this just seems to be what he does,” Payne said, asking for a total of 60 days in jail — a sentence that would also include Belanger failing to have copies of the conditions of his release on hand like he was supposed to when stopped by a peace officer.

When it comes to crimes like food theft, fines are the usual way it’s settled — although there is the option for jail time.

“Rarely does it go beyond that,” said Judge Eric Brooks, adding that Belanger’s ability to comply with court orders is “atrocious.”

Defence counsel requested a 30-day sentence for the breach, and 15 days for the food theft to be served concurrently.

Ultimately Judge Brooks sentenced Belanger to 30 days for the breach, and 15 days for the food theft to be served consecutively.

Belanger, who is currently in custody, was able to use his time served in pretrial custody to count towards the 45-day sentence.

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