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Defence lawyer says house arrest will help Deer Lake man who stole safe turn his life around

Anthony Joseph Strickland (a.k.a. Gabbard) enters provincial court in Corner Brook Thursday.
Anthony Joseph Strickland (a.k.a. Gabbard) enters provincial court in Corner Brook Thursday. - Gary Kean
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Despite using his knowledge of a restaurant’s operations to help steal its safe and the money inside, Anthony Joseph Strickland deserves a break in life, his lawyer says.

Strickland, 19, who sometimes goes by the surname Gabbard, will be sentenced by Judge Catherine Allen-Westby at provincial court in Corner Brook today.

He has been in custody since Feb. 9, the day after he broke into the A&W restaurant in Deer Lake, where he had previously worked, and stole a safe containing more than $1,600 cash.

Surveillance footage showed he clearly knew where the safe was and immediately went to it after entering the business through an open door in the early morning hours of Feb. 8. He quickly pried the safe off the floor and took it.

Strickland, who had disguised himself during the heist, was arrested after investigators followed honeycomb-patterned shoe prints found inside the store near a piece of wood used to leverage the safe. The prints led police to Strickland’s mother’s house, where he and the safe were found.

Strickland was co-operative with police, telling them that he needed the money for his family.

He was not as compliant last October when he was charged with uttering threats against two officers after the police had responded to a disturbance at a home at Humber Valley Resort. During his arrest, Strickland repeatedly threatened harm not just to the officers, but to members of their family.

Jamie Luscombe, who represented Strickland in court Thursday, said his client has had a rough upbringing and has been mostly left to his own devices. Luscombe said the unacceptable behaviour last fall was most likely drug-fueled and the break and entry was a crime of opportunity that did not put anyone at risk of physical harm.

Luscombe asked that Strickland be given eight to 10 months of house arrest. He said Strickland is still a young man who has a chance to go back to school and turn his life around.

“This is an opportunity where the court can provide the resources Mr. Strickland needs,” said Luscombe.

Crown attorney Kate Ashton asked Allen-Westby to put Strickland in prison for between 12 and 16 months, but would not object to a blended sentence whereby Strickland spent six of those months in prison and the rest on house arrest.

Luscombe said the Crown’s submission was extremely harsh. He said there was no indication of a pattern of disobeying court orders, and Strickland should be given the chance to show he can serve a conditional sentence in the community.

“It’s his to lose,” Luscombe said of the prospect of house arrest becoming real jail time should Strickland breach any conditions placed on him.

As of Thursday, Strickland had spent 55 days in custody. Luscombe has asked he be given a credit of 1.5 days served for each day he has served prior to being sentenced.

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