(NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Alberni man gets jail time for locker room thefts at pool

Judge delayed sentencing to ask for victim impact statements

A Port Alberni man who stole from locker rooms at the Echo Aquatic Centre has been sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Roger Matthew Stonehouse, 28, has been in police custody since November 2019. Between Sept. 3 and Nov. 6, Port Alberni RCMP received several reports of thefts from vehicles, break and enters, fraudulent use of credit cards and thefts from lockers at the Echo Centre. On Nov. 7, Stonehouse was arrested after police found him in possession of numerous stolen items.

READ MORE: Port Alberni man charged with multiple thefts from vehicles, lockers at Echo Centre

Stonehouse faced 37 charges, ranging from theft and possession of stolen property to possession of a firearm.

He was originally scheduled to be sentenced in January, but Judge Alexander Wolf requested that Crown Counsel reach out to the “significant” number of victims in the case and offer them a chance to provide an impact statement before the sentencing.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Crown Counsel Emily Bonner shared testimony from victims who said they were “frustrated” and “fed up” after the thefts.

Stonehouse was sentenced on Wednesday to 22 months in jail, followed by 18 months probation. He will not be allowed to have any contact with his victims.

Stonehouse’s defence lawyer, Cheyne Hodson, explained that Stonehouse struggles with an addiction that he traces back to his youth. Stonehouse spent his childhood in the foster care system and had already developed a drug habit by the time he aged out of the system.

“Mr. Stonehouse is taking responsibility for his actions,” said Hodson. “He seems to be quite serious about dealing with his underlying addiction issues.”

Appearing by video from Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, Stonehouse offered an apology to the court.

“I’m gonna be working on myself every day that I’m in here,” he added.

Judge Ronald Webb recommended in his sentencing that Stonehouse be admitted to a treatment program at Guthrie House in Nanaimo Correctional Centre.

“At the end of the day, the jails will always be open if you don’t deal with your addiction,” he told Stonehouse on Wednesday.


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