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Burin man who reported fake stabbing to lure police gets jail time

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Tristan Barrett failed in his plan to get police to leave his home so he could escape

A Burin man who — among other things — made a false report of a stabbing in an effort to lure police away from his home so he could escape has been sentenced to two years behind bars.

An order compelling 24-year-old Tristan Barrett to submit a sample of his DNA to a national police database is unnecessary, the judge ruled, since police already have it from a half-empty beer bottle he left at the scene of one of his crimes.

Grand Bank provincial court Judge Harold Porter sentenced Barrett Nov. 25 on charges of break, enter and mischief; two counts of uttering threats; public mischief by making a false report; obstruction of justice; and seven counts of breaching orders.

In October of 2017, the RCMP received a report of a break-In at the Newfoundland Power substation yard in Burin. Upon arrival, officers discovered someone had broken open the gate and stolen an ATV off a trailer in the yard, leaving behind two half-empty Maximum Ice beer.

The next day, police received an anonymous tip the ATV was in Lewins Cove. They located it, damaged to the tune of $2,000.

Forensic testing of one of the beer bottles revealed Barrett’s DNA. He was arrested almost two years later and released with a court date, then arrested again last February for not showing up for another scheduled court appearance. He was released on conditions, including that he report daily to police by phone and abide by a curfew.


“That kind of false report can be very dangerous, in the sense that the emergency responders do not know how dangerous the situation really is, but have been told that they will encounter an armed assailant." — Judge Harold Porter


One day in June, an RCMP officer went to Barrett’s home to do a curfew check.

“She went around the house, knocking and waiting for an answer. She was there 20 minutes. The accused was not,” Porter said.

Barrett wasn’t home when police visited on each of the next four days, either, though he responded to a text message at one point saying he had gone for a bike ride and would turn himself in.

The following week, two officers knocked on Barrett’s door and heard him say from inside the house, “The f---ing cops are outside.” He didn’t come to the door.

On June 11, around 1 a.m., police went back to the residence, finding Barrett outside. He retreated inside, shouting at two officers that he would shoot them with guns he had in the house. As one of the officers was preparing a warrant to enter the house and arrest Barrett, a call came in from RCMP dispatch with a report of a stabbing at the Marystown Ultramar station. One of the officers left to attend to the call and an ambulance was dispatched to the gas station.

“There had been no stabbing,” Porter said. “It was a hoax.”

After they arrested Barrett that night and seized his cellphone, police learned he had made the false stabbing report. His plan, the judge said, was to entice the officers to leave his house so he could escape.

Porter noted Barrett has 21 prior convictions, all of them in the past three years. Especially serious among his newest convictions, the judge said, were Barrett’s threats to shoot police.

Porter also commented on the fact an ambulance had been dispatched as a result of Barrett’s hoax, wasting public resources.

“That kind of false report can be very dangerous, in the sense that the emergency responders do not know how dangerous the situation really is, but have been told that they will encounter an armed assailant,” the judge said.

With credit for time served, Barrett has 439 days left on his jail sentence. After that, he will be on probation for a year, with a condition to attend counselling.

Porter declined to grant the Crown’s request for a DNA order, saying there was no need.

“That is, after all, how he was identified as one of the people who broke into the NL Power substation,” he said.

Shortly before Barrett’s sentencing, police visited him in jail with new charges: two counts of possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking, one of them for fentanyl and the other for ecstasy. The RCMP say officers found the drugs while searching Barrett’s home when he was arrested in June and recently received test results confirming the substances.

Tara Bradbury reports on the courts and the justice system in St. John's.

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