Probation ordered for hydro pole vandalism

Compensation also sought for damage in Terrace, B.C. incident

ONE OF two teens charged with attempting to cut down a power pole near Caledonia Secondary School last fall will spend a year on probation and do 75 hours of community work service after pleading guilty to common nuisance endangering life.

“I’d like to apologize. I understand that my actions affected numerous people in a whole lot of different ways. Whatever you decide on the community hours, I’m going to get them done because I need to make things good,” said the 17-year-old when asked by Judge William Jackson if he had anything to say before sentencing.

A 17-year-old and a 15-year-old were arrested Oct. 29, 2012 after witnesses called police at 2:48 a.m. to report two figures in dark clothing doing what looked like trying to saw through a power pole outside the school, said police at that time.

Two people ran when they saw police but officers followed and found the pair attempting to hide in bushes on the Howe Creek Trail and police then followed footprints in the snow to find the saw.

Classes were cancelled for the day at Caledonia while BC Hydro crews replaced the pole.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named or identified according to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, had no prior criminal record and had been on a downward path for some time while facing some stress in his life, said Crown prosecutor Julian Dudley while reviewing the evidence.

“If there’s anything one could say, if something could bring him out of it, this would be it and seems to be,” said Dudley.

Defence lawyer Dallis Winsor agreed.

“It would appear in this particular case, bad things have led to good things happening for this young man,” said Winsor.

His client immediately owned up to his behaviour and began taking steps that did show, and still do show, he is capable of being a responsible young person, said Winsor.

Since his arrest, he had moved away from a peer group that negatively influenced him toward a proper peer group in terms of age and behaviour, said Winsor.

“I don’t think we’ll see him come back to court,” said Winsor. “He has been punished significantly already, your honour. He lost esteem in the eyes of his peers.”

In the teen’s pre-sentence report, which helps the judge with sentencing, there’s a sentence that said the teen will often act without thinking of the consequences, said Winsor.

“I have read that a lot, not only about adults but especially in youth,” said Winsor.

“I suspect most or many young people display that during their formative years.

“He had no idea the danger he placed himself and the community at with his actions,” said Winsor, adding his client was extremely fortunate that the pole and the electricity it carried didn’t blow up, which was a very sobering lesson for him.

Part of the teen’s conditions on his probation are to abide by a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., to have no contact with the co-accused directly or indirectly and not to have any knives, saws, or axes except where necessary in the preparation and consumption of food, for school courses or employment.

Judge Jackson did not order the teen to pay any compensation or restitution, saying he would leave that up to BC Hydro.

At the time of the vandalism, BC Hydro had said the cost to replace the pole was more than $25,000.

BC Hydro had already been in contact with the teen’s parents about compensation, said Winsor.

“BC Hydro regularly pursues collections from those responsible for acts of vandalism to our equipment in order to help keep rates low for customers,” said BC Hydro official David Mosure.

“In this case, we have forwarded an invoice for the repair costs to the parents and are currently awaiting their response.

“In the event we do not receive payment, we would then look at other options which at times includes civil action.”

Charges of mischief to property more than $5,000 and breach of duty likely to cause mischief against the teen were stayed.

The second teen charged in the incident is scheduled to be back in court April 9.

He faces the same three charges and so far has not entered a plea in court.