Two men charged in the recent Muskoka Centre property break-in in Gravenhurst have received prison sentences.
Judge JD Evans heard guilty pleas to break and enter charges from 27-year-old Gaston Gagnon and 53-year-old James Mountney, both of Orillia, today in Bracebridge Court.
Crown Attorney Paul Culver told Evans the break-in happened February 24th at 3:30am.
A citizen called police about people banging on a locked gate that secured the fence surrounding the property – they also reported seeing a vehicle being driven on the property with no lights a short while later.
When police arrived, they found the would-be thieves had gained access by removing the gate’s hinges.
Police soon found Mountney in a van and Gagnon standing outside of it while two other men removed copper piping from a building. One of these others was throwing the piping down from the roof.
The total value of the piping would have been around $720 if it had been sold.
Mountney & Gagnon were arrested immediately – the others were taken into custody following an OPP canine unit search, said defence lawyer Robin Bellows.
Culver noted such thefts are on the rise these days due to the increasing value of copper.
Gagnon told Evans he’s since had nightmares about the abandoned property, which used to house a sanatorium.
“It definitely wasn’t worth it,” he admitted in a remorseful statement to the judge.
Evans sentenced him to five months in prison plus the time he’s already served, which amounted to 30 days since his arrest.
Mountney received a much stiffer sentence – he has a previous “lengthy and unenviable” criminal record showing similar offences, said Bellows.
Mountney told court: “it was a very stupid mistake – I didn’t know what we were getting into when we did it.”
Evans sentenced him to 15 months in jail, which includes the 30 days he’s already spent in custody since his arrest.
“You know darn well you shouldn’t have been doing what you were doing,” Evans told him.
Both men will also have to submit samples of their blood to police as part of a DNA order.
The other two men arrested in the case have yet to have their day in court.