By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2023.
A 35-year-old woman who was caught inside another person’s 5th wheel trailer, then a few months later stole an SUV, has been sentenced to nearly 6 months in jail.
Rose-Anne Lovette Hegi received the sentence this week in Lethbridge court of justice where she pleaded guilty to charges of motor vehicle theft and mischief, as well as breaching release conditions and an undertaking.
On May 22 of this year a Lethbridge resident who had only the day previous returned from a camping trip, was checking his trailer and noticed the deadbolt on the door was broken and the handle pried open.
“He opened the door, looked inside, located a female inside and yelled at her, ‘why did you break into my trailer,’ ” Crown Prosecutor Kathleen Tokaruk told the judge.
Hegi said a friend had broken in, even though the owner didn’t see anyone else in the trailer. He also saw feces on the floor and urine on the bed, and food and a bottle of vodka were missing.
“So the Crown is prepared to accept that Miss Hegi entered the trailer, committed the mischief…but we’re not seeking to allege that she’s the one that broke into that trailer,” Tokaruk said.
Three months later police officers were responding to an incident at the McDonald’s restaurant downtown and noticed a blue Kia Sportage that had been reported stolen. A man was in the vehicle and Hegi was standing beside it at the time, but a review of surveillance video from the restaurant showed Hegi driving the vehicle when it had arrived.
The vehicle had been stolen a few hours earlier, and the owner told police someone entered her home and stole several items, including a set of keys and a wallet. She then saw a woman get into her vehicle and drive away.
Hegi was arrested then released on an undertaking with conditions, including she not have any contact with the man who was also seen in the stolen SUV and who is co-accused. The following day, however, police saw the two together at a downtown gas station and she was charged with failing to comply with an undertaking.
Hegi was released on Oct. 11 and ordered to live with her mother in Lethbridge and obey a curfew. The next day, however, her mother called police and said her daughter never came home after she was released and she was charged with failing to comply with a release order. Police could not initially find the accused and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Lethbridge lawyer Cara Lebenzon told court her client was adopted when she was five years old, and in later years developed an addiction to alcohol which she was able to overcome after 12 years. She started using harder drugs during a difficult and traumatic time in her life, which coincided with the start of her criminal offences in 2018, and she lived on the streets for a time.
Before that, Hegi had earned her nursing degree at Lethbridge College and had a “great career” at St. Michael’s Health Centre.
Lebenzon said Hegi wants to remain sober once she is released from custody, and she plans to seek treatment and change her life.
Although sentenced to 172 days in custody, Hegi was credited the equivalent of 68 days she spent in pre-trial custody, leaving her with 104 days to serve.
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