Crown seeks six years for man who committed 11 break-ins

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Rosie Mullaley
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Defence expected to ask for a sentence of a little more than two years

William Chad Pearce is escorted into Courtroom No. 5 at provincial court in St. John’s Friday afternoon for his sentencing hearing. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

A St. John’s man who broke into almost a dozen homes in the capital city earlier this year belongs in jail for six years, a prosecutor told a judge Friday.

“He needs to get to a point where a long sentence will deter him,” Crown prosecutor Bill Cadigan said during William Chad Pearce’s sentencing hearing.

Pearce — who goes by his middle name — pleaded guilty in late June to the break-ins, along with four charges of breaching court orders, including breaching probation.

The 30-year-old was arrested March 17, when police caught him trying to get into house on Mount Royal Avenue. He had smashed out the window in the back of the house.

A neighbour had spotted him on the property and called the homeowner, who was at her daughter’s house babysitting her grandchildren.

Through the course of the investigation — which included getting footwear impressions and fingerprints — police discovered Pearce had also been responsible for several prior break-ins in various parts of the city.

Pearce had broken into homes on Musgrave Street, Jasper Street, Quebec Street, LeMarchant Road, Patrick Street, Hamilton Avenue and Linscott Street. Most of break-ins happened in March. There were a few in late February, one in January and one from June, 2012.

In each case, Pearce managed to get into the houses by either smashing out windows or patio doors in the back. They were all committed in the daytime when the homeowners were not there.

Several items were taken at each of the homes, including jewelry, money, laptop computers and pills. Some of the items were later found at Pearce’s home after he was arrested.

He’s been in custody since his arrest, but Cadigan hopes he will stay behind bars for much longer.

He said being the victim of a break-in can be traumatic.

“Break and enters are a big, big problem and it’s a big, big deal to come home and find your house was broken into,” he said.

“You can only imagine the trouble it causes for the homeowners. … And imagine if you come home and find him there. Mr. Pearce is a big, intimidating guy. I know I wouldn’t want to come home and find him in my house.

“It was only luck that nobody was home during these break-ins.”

Cadigan read out a victim impact statement from a woman whose house was one of Pearce’s targets.

“I lost material things, but it’s the emotional damage that was the hardest,” the woman wrote.

She said she suffered from extreme anxiety and had to seek counselling after the incident. She said her sense of security has been affected.

Pearce’s lawyer, Michael Ralph, is expected to make his submission to Judge Lois Skanes on Monday, when the hearing continues.

Ralph told reporters he will likely ask for a jail sentence of a little more than two years.

He had requested a pre-sentence report, which includes details about Pearce’s battle with drug addiction.

After he was arrested, Pearce had admitted to the break-ins, but said he couldn’t remember where he committed them, as he was so high on drugs.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

Geographic location: Mount Royal Avenue, Musgrave Street, Jasper Street Quebec Street LeMarchant Road Patrick Street Hamilton Avenue Linscott Street

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  • Marshall Art
    August 11, 2013 - 19:40

    The defence lawyer will ask for a sentence of a little more than 2 years for his client, who broke into a dozen homes ?. This could be a murder case if one of the homeowners had come home during either of those break-ins. The possibility of a homeowner ending up in a body bag apparently doesn't mean squat as far as sentencing is concerned. The Crown wants 6 years, the defence wants 2 years +, so they'll likely agree on 3 years. It's all a game and deterrence is only a joke.