By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 13, 2024.
A Lethbridge man who broke into a couple of commercial businesses in 2021 and 2022, had hoped the equivalent of 303 days he has already spent in remand custody would satisfy the judge hearing his case and he would be released Monday.
However, Joshua Alexander Drake is going to have to spend more time behind bars.
Drake, 34, pleaded guilty last month to the two break-ins, as well as to driving while prohibited and failing to appear in court. Sentencing was adjourned, but the Crown recommended Drake receive a 20-month jail sentence and probation for the break-ins, as well as two months in jail for the driving offence and a fine for failing to attend court.
Lethbridge lawyer Justin Dean, on the other hand, asked the judge to sentence his client to eight months in jail for the break-ins, and give him credit for eight months he has already spent in custody, which would effectively complete his sentence. And while he agreed with the fine for failing to attend court, he also suggested a fine for driving while prohibited, instead of a jail sentence.
Justice Erin Olsen acknowledged Drake’s guilty pleas, as well as his remorse, but during Monday’s sentencing hearing in Lethbridge court of justice she said the circumstances of his offences are particularly aggravating and his degree of responsibility is too high not to impose more jail time.
“I conclude that the sentence Mr. Drake proposed for these B&Es – essentially time served – does not adequately reflect the seriousness of these offences or his high degree of moral blameworthiness,” Olsen said.
Olsen sentenced Drake to 18 months in jail for the break-ins, but only one month in jail for driving while prohibited. And even though she fined him $400 for failing to appear in court, she instead allowed him to serve the default time of three days in jail, to run concurrently to the other sentences. With credit for time he spent in pretrial custody, he has nearly months left to serve.
During the court hearing last month, Crown Prosecutor Michael Fox said Drake and another individual broke into All Size Storage in Redcliff on Dec. 17, 2021. They broke into 11 separate storage units and stole property from many of them, including power tools, a compressor, generator and welder.
Drake also broke into warehouses belonging to Jenex Contracting in Magrath. On Oct. 2, 2022, Drake and a woman broke into the buildings and stole $400,000 worth of tools, including survey equipment, a radio, torque wrench, chainsaw, camera scope, laptops, keys to vehicles, and impact wrenches.
The owner posted information about the break-in on Facebook, and when Drake saw the post shortly afterward, he contacted the owner and confessed. Fox pointed out Drake’s mother works for a friend of the owner, and Drake did not want his crime to impact his mother.
“I don’t want this to fall back on my mom,” Drake told the business owner. “I did it out of desperation, I had nowhere to go and nobody to help. I’m truly going to take a hard lesson from this. In the future, when I have my life together, I would really like to make it up to you anyway I can. I’m not a piece of sh-t, I just don’t have the easiest life.”
Dean said his client cooperated with police and is remorseful and taking responsibility for his offences. He described the offences as a crime of opportunity.
Drake said he hopes to avoid more time in jail so he can build his relationship with his two young children, something he has been unable to do because of all the time he has previously spent in jail.
“I guess I can ask you to please let me go home to my family.”
Drake told court he wants to start a business, and he has a dream to collect and sell comics and Pokemon cards, of which he has an extensive collection currently in storage, but which he risks losing.
Fox, who noted Drake has 68 previous criminal convictions for offences that include break-ins, theft, possession of stolen property and theft of motor vehicles, said Drake’s offences were not crimes of opportunity, and he wasn’t worried about his relationship with his sons when he committed the most recent break-ins.
In addition to his jail sentences, Drake will be on probation for one year after he is released, and he will be prohibited from driving for one year.