April 21st, 2024

Men sentenced for unrelated break-ins


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 30, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

One of two men sentenced this week for unrelated break-ins has already served his time, while the other still has nearly three months to spend behind bars.

Troy Gordon Wolstenholme, 42, was facing two charges of housebreaking and commit theft in November and December of last year. He pleaded guilty in Lethbridge court of justice to both charges and was sentenced to four months in jail, but was credited for the equivalent amount of time spent in remand custody, effectively concluding his sentence.

On Nov. 22, 2023 police responded to a report that someone was inside a home that was vacant and being renovated. Police entered the home and found Wolstenholme asleep on a chair.

Barely two weeks later, on Dec. 8, police received a similar complaint and went to a northside home that was vacant and for sale. Once again police found Wolstenholme inside asleep.

“It appears Mr. Wolstenholme was simply looking for a place to get out of the elements,” Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison told the judge.

Lethbridge lawyer Tracy Hembroff said her client moved to Lethbridge three years ago, and during a series of difficult challenges, including the death of his father two years ago, began using drugs.

“He just fell into a horrible situation of ongoing drug use, drug addiction,” Hembroff said.

She explained that following his latest arrest for breaking into a home, Wosteholme told police, “I had just finished using meth and fentanyl the last hour or so and I was so very cold.”

Hembroff pointed out Wolstenholme only has a minimal criminal record, but it’s entirely related to his drug use.

Justice Erin Olsen told Wolstenholme she understands the challenges and difficulties in his life, but warned him further offences will continue to land him in jail.

“The idea is to deter you from doing this again,” Olsen said. “We don’t want you to make this choice again…and we want to send a message, as well, that this kind of decision -making will result in jail for other people who should choose to do this.”

Olsen said break-ins occur often in the city, and residents have the right to be upset and call police.

“I understand that you’re motivated to find shelter and to, not necessarily cause other trouble, but the fact is that these are private homes and residences and the owners are concerned. Sometimes people cause a lot of damage and a lot of trouble when they’re sheltering like this, but it’s simply not something you’re allowed to do.”

Jonathan Vielle, 41, also pleaded guilty to a couple of break-ins, as well as possession of stolen property, and was sentenced to four months in jail. He, however, had only spent the equivalent of 32 days in pre-disposition custody, which leaves him with just shy of three months to serve. He will also be on probation for nine months.

Court was told that on Jan . 3 of last year a homeowner called police after his alarm was triggered. He checked his attached garage and noticed the walk-in door was open and several people were inside. He grabbed one of the suspects, as well as some of his property, then they all fled with other property taken from the garage and company truck.

Police found two men riding bikes east across Whoop-Up Drive bridge, one of whom was Vielle and who said the other man had the stolen items, as well as several five dollar bills taken from a car parked in the garage.

Vielle was also caught after breaking into a southside garage just after midnight on Dec. 1, 2022. Vielle fled but was tracked by police and a police dog who followed the suspect’s footprints in the snow to 12 Street and 5 A Avenue South and saw Vielle walking into a yard.

The home owner told police that when he checked his garage he noticed one of the windows was smashed and he could hear movement inside. Vielle walked out and told the homeowner to stay away from him or he would spray him with bear spray.

In an unrelated incident, Vielle was caught with a bicycle that had been stolen from the University of Lethbridge on Jan. 25 of last year. A week later a police officer saw Vielle pushing the bike in an alley and arrested the suspect, who said he was just walking the bike for another man and had asked him if it was stolen.

Defence told court Vielle lives on the street and is addicted to fentanyl, but he plans to go into detox and get treatment after he is released from custody.

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