By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 22, 2023.
Leon Steven Cugnet knew he was guilty of breaking into Hudson’s Bay downtown. He admitted it, accepted responsibility, and was prepared for the consequences.
He wasn’t sure, however, if the judge would agree to the jail sentence his lawyer and the Crown prosecutor suggested Thursday in Lethbridge court of justice.
“I must say to both of you, it seems the sentence is very light,” Justice Derek Redman said of the three-month jail term recommended by counsel.
Redman ultimately agreed to the joint submission, after hearing additional rationale for the proposed term, including that two other people were also involved in the break-in, and some of the evidence may have been hard to prove had the matter gone to trial.
Cugnet, 50, pleaded guilty to a charge of shopbreaking, and he was placed on probation for 12 months, in addition to the jail sentence. He was, however, given full credit for time he has already spent in custody since his arrest, which completes his sentence.
At about 3:48 a.m. on July 13 of this year police were notified of multiple alarms going off at Hudson’s Bay. One woman was arrested in the store, while another woman was arrested after she ran across the parking lot into a stairwell. Cugnet fled to the parking garage, hid inside a vehicle, and refused to leave.
“A police dog was used to extricate him,” Crown Prosecutor Rachel Poelzer told court.
During a subsequent search, police found Cugnet in possession of a knife, multitool, pliers, scissors screwdriver and pry bar. The value of stolen items, which had been carried from the store in suitcases, was estimated at about $41,000. There was more than $5,000 damage to store property, including broken display cases.
Cugnet also pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of stolen property over $5,000, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, again deemed served by his previous remand time in custody.
At about 8:24 a.m.on Oct. 4, a Telus employee reported that sometime overnight someone broke into and damaged his work truck, and stole several items. Shortly afterward the owner told police he saw four people in the downtown library parking lot in possession of his stolen items.
“One of the men (Cugnet) was wearing a stolen Telus jacket,” Poelzer said.
The total value of stolen items found in Cugnet’s possession was more than $5,000.
Calgary lawyer Jason Demers said Cugnet is remorseful for his actions, but because of personal circumstances at the time, and despite a lengthy gap in his criminal record, he simply “falls off the deep end…and actually goes quite deep.”
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Cugnet said moments before he was sentenced.
He explained an incident between his wife and children drove him into a drug-fuelled rage.
“I started doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing, and I regret it.”
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