A St. John's man who stole thousands of dollars from the Bell Island ferry vessels while he worked as a courier will serve his sentence in the community.
David Whalen was given a six-month conditional sentence today in provincial court.
It included 18 months probation and a restitution order to pay the government back all the money he took from the Department of
Transportation and Works. Whalen was also ordered to pay a $200 victim surcharge.
Between August 2012 and January 2013, Whalen stole $8,732.25 while he worked at a Millennium Courier.
Whalen took the money after picking up deposit bags from the ferry in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. Before taking the money to the bank, he would then alter the deposit slips to indicate there were less deposit bags than the actual number.
There was more money alleged to have been stolen, but could not be proven by police.
The 44-year-old pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 and forgery.
In sentencing Whalen, Judge Lori Marshall went along with an agreed recommendation from both lawyers.
Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Ivany called it a serious breach of trust, but said a conditional sentence is appropriate since Whalen pleaded guilty at the earliest possible time, saving the court time, his criminal record was dated (back to the 1990s) and his pre-sentence report was positive.
Defence lawyer Ken Mahoney said Whalen grew up in an alcoholic family, but worked hard all his life.
He said he committed the crimes to get money for drugs. He said Whalen is not an addict, his drug use was triggered by a traumatic event in his life, when he found his girlfriend of 14 years dead in her bathroom. She had suffered from severe asthma.
Mahoney said Whalen genuinely regrets breaking the law and has agreed to seek counselling for drug addiction.
When the judge asked him if he needs counselling to deal with anything else, Whalen replied, "I'm kind of at peace with what happen," referring to his girlfriend.
Marshall agreed to the conditional sentence, but told Whalen, "Although it's a very sad situation, it certainly doesn't justify how you dealt with it."
Conditions of his sentence include that he adhere to a curfew, abstain from drugs and alcohol and participate in any program referred to by his supervisor, particularly relating to alcohol and drug addiction.