A 27-year-old man who broke into a house while the no one was home is getting a chance to turn his life around.
Andrew Christopher Cullen appeared before Judge John Douglas in provincial court in Charlottetown for sentencing but avoided jail time after pleading guilty in November 2018 to the break and enter.
During the recent sentencing, Crown attorney Lisa Goulden told the court that on Sept. 15, 2018, Cullen broke into a Charlottetown home through a second-floor window.
The family had left home earlier in the day with all of the doors locked and returned to find the front door open.
Inside the fridge was moved and water was running.
Some of the items Cullen stole included a watch, a gold chain, an Xbox One and a silver necklace with a pendant.
The police recovered all of the stolen items.
Goulden said it was “sheer luck” the house wasn’t occupied when Cullen broke in, and there was a high risk someone could have come home to find him there.
A break and enter is a serious offence, Goulden said.
“It is a violation and it creates a serious offence.”
Defence lawyer Alex Dalton told the court Cullen understands it is a very serious charge.
Cullen was homeless at the time, highly intoxicated and knew no one was home, she said.
Details of a Gladue report, which is a type of pre-sentence report prepared for Aboriginal offenders, were read in court and set out some of his background.
The court heard that growing up Cullen had no knowledge about his First Nations descent.
He experienced racism in school, got into drugs as a teen and struggled with alcohol for years.
Dalton said Cullen has been doing well since the incident, he got an apartment in Dartmouth and had a job interview scheduled for the day after his court appearance.
Since his arrest, Cullen completed an addiction treatment program at Eagle’s Nest Recovery House in Nova Scotia where Dalton said he learned a lot about his background.
She recommended a suspended sentence and said if Cullen was sent to jail, he would lose his apartment and wouldn’t be able to continue to better himself.
Cullen, who had a prior criminal record, addressed the court before hearing his sentence and apologized for breaking into the home.
“I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time,” he said.
He told the court he feels that if he can find a job, do community service and go to university in the fall he can get his life on track.
“I’ve wasted years of my life drinking.”
Douglas said it was very serious offence to go into someone’s home even when there was nobody there.
Normally a non-custodial sentence wouldn’t be an option for that offence, but it was not a usual case, Douglas said.
Considering all the factors, Douglas gave Cullen a suspended sentence.
Cullen will be on probation for 15 months and must write an apology letter to the homeowners.
He must also provide a DNA sample for the national databank.