By Annalee Grant
A man was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday after pleading guilty to 20 charges of break and enter in Cranbrook Provincial Court.
Elliott Born appeared in front of Judge Grant Sheard on May 28 where he plead guilty to the more than 20 counts of break and enter through his counsel Rick Strahl, plus three attempted break and enters. The offences were committed in Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood and Creston.
The offences span from September 19, 2011 to May 18, 2012 and in some cases involved multiple break ins at the same locations. A detailed report was filed by the RCMP, but not all of the individual circumstances were read out in court. Strahl and Crown counsel Lianna Swanson entered a joint submission requesting a five-year prison sentence.
Swanson told the court that the break ins had been fairly sophisticated, involving tampering with security equipment and the cutting of wires. It is believed that the crimes may have gone unsolved had Born not admitted them to RCMP. Swanson said Born had gone on a ride along with police pointing out the locations of the break and enters.
Court was told about two of the break ins in detail; one at the Byng Hotel and two at Durango’s Lounge. Durango’s owner Pat O’Connell advised that his estimated loss due to damages was $10,000.
Swanson said the Byng Hotel, which was also broken into by Born, has estimated their loss in the amount of $6,000.
Born asked to address the court. He said the amount stolen from an ATM machine at the Byng amounted to $2,380. Swanson advised that damages to the ATM machine itself cost about $3,000 and was not covered by insurance.
“Those ATMs are not insured, generally because they are so high risk,” she said.
O’Connell was allowed by the Crown to enter a verbal victim impact statement, during which he told the court that the two break ins at his downtown business resulted in emotional and financial stress to himself, his family and his staff.
After the first offence in October 2011, O’Connell installed a safe and other security equipment. It was stolen during the second offence in April 2012. He told court that Born had befriended him at least seven months before the crimes were perpetrated, and that he felt Born had “breached his acquaintance or relationship,” and that he was “devastated” by the betrayal.
He expressed his concerns that the safe stolen from his business contained personal information from customers. He also told the court that because of the second offence, his business could not accept credit cazrds for two days, resulting in a loss of revenue.
O’Connell said his staff and family felt violated when their family-run, small business was broken into. Since the break ins, O’Connell said his staff feels unsafe.
“The money is one thing – we’ll get through the hardships,” O’Connell said from the witness stand, addressing Born directly. “You’ve destroyed my faith in certain human qualities.”
Born, seated in the prisoner’s box, stared straight ahead appearing emotionless during O’Connell’s statement. After O’Connell was finished, Born asked to address him, which was granted by Sheard.
“Nobody would have known anything if I hadn’t told the police,” Born said, adding that he had told police the location of the safe taken from O’Connell’s business, and that the personal information contained within it was still in tact.
Sheard noted that Born has 26 prior break and enter convictions, the most recent being in 2006 and an “enviable” criminal record. There was an audible gasp from the gallery when Sheard announced the number of prior convictions in Born’s record.
While the other victims did not enter statements, Sheard said he imagined they would not be much different from the situation described by O’Connell. He addressed Born directly, stating that he had “brazenly preyed” upon the victims and their businesses.
Sheard commented on Born’s admission of guilt on just his second court date on the matter before delivering the sentence of five years in custody for each offence, to be served concurrently.
“It is a mitigating factor that you have plead guilty at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
Born was dressed in grey sweatpants and a white button-up shirt, and appeared emotionless through most of the proceedings.