THUNDER BAY - A man who broke into several local businesses and stole more than $40,000 worth of items has been sentenced to two years after pleading guilty to several break and enter and drug charges.
Gary Paul Townsend, 33, appeared before Justice Joyce Elder via video from the Thunder Bay District Jail in a Thunder Bay Courtroom on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to possession of fentanyl, possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, two counts of breaking and entering, and three counts of failing to comply with a probation order.
Justice Elder sentenced Townsend to two years less a day and with pre-sentence custody of 396 days, he will serve an additional 333 days at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre.
The court heard that between February and March 2021, Townsend broke into several properties on the city’s northside, stealing merchandise worth $16,028 from one location, and merchandise worth between $25,000 and $30,000 from another location.
On March 4, 2021, the Thunder Bay Police were notified by an individual who had lent a vehicle to Townsend and was not returned. Police located Townsend in the vehicle and upon his arrest, he was found to be in possession of fentanyl and cocaine.
Townsend has a lengthy criminal record mostly dealing with property related offences. Defense counsel David Pierce told the court that Townsend has been struggling with addiction issues that escalated since his divorce and the loss of his father in 2017.
Pierce informed the court that Townsend has submitted letters of apology to the victims of the break and enters and that he understands any further interactions with the criminal justice system could result in significant incarceration.
When given the opportunity to address the court, Townsend said he doesn’t want to use drugs as an excuse for his behaviour and that he hopes to continue to seek help for his addictions. He also apologized to the victims, saying they did not deserve to become involved in his own problems.
Justice Elder said the charges to which Townsend pleaded guilty are serious, including the possession of cocaine for the purposes of trafficking, as it puts the community at risk in the midst of an ongoing drug crisis.
Justice Elder did acknowledge Townsend’s struggles with drugs, believing his actions were the result of the demands of his addiction.
Townsend was previously sentenced in June 2020 to five months for previous break and enter charges and Justice Elder noted that the most recent charges occurred shortly after his release, demonstrating a pattern of behaviour.
Given Townsend’s admission of guilt and expressed remorse, Justice Elder agreed with the joint submission. Following the 333 days in custody at the Thunder Bay Correctional Centre, Townsend will be subject to 12 months probation and was also given two restitution orders to pay back the cost of the stolen items at $16,000 and $25,000.
Townsend will also be required to submit a DNA sample and is subject to a weapons prohibition. The victim fine surcharge fee was waived.