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Alleged St. John's serial thief hopes to set dates for second trial

Court stock image.
Court stock image.

Justin Chipman is accused of a string of vehicle break-ins in the metro area last year

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

A St. John’s man charged in connection with a string of vehicle break-ins is hoping to set a date for his second trial.

Justin Chipman, 33, is facing 34 charges related to incidents between June and October 2020. Among them are charges of possessing stolen credit cards, unauthorized use of credit cards, theft under $5,000, fraud under $5,000, possession of stolen property — including a motor vehicle — flight from police, dangerous driving and breaching court orders. The earliest charges relate to a vehicle that was broken into by way of a smashed window while parked near the Fluvarium during daylight in June. Chipman is accused of using credit cards that were stolen in the break-in.


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Chipman is scheduled for a five-day trial on 18 of the charges in provincial court in St. John’s starting May 31.

On Tuesday, his lawyer, Steven Orr, told the court his client hopes to set trial dates for the remainder of the charges.

The Crown indicated a new prosecutor had been assigned to the case and requested some time to review it.

Chipman’s case will be called again April 13.


Royal Newfoundland Constabulary street patrol vehicles are shown outside the MUN Field House Feb. 19, 2014 after a plainclothes police officer drew his weapon and fired at Justin Chipman who was driving an SUV towards officers trying to arrest him. — SaltWire Network File Photo
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary street patrol vehicles are shown outside the MUN Field House Feb. 19, 2014 after a plainclothes police officer drew his weapon and fired at Justin Chipman who was driving an SUV towards officers trying to arrest him. — SaltWire Network File Photo


Chipman, who was arrested on a warrant in mid-October, was denied bail and has been in custody ever since. He has a history of breaking into vehicles and is well known to police, who set up a sting operation to catch the thief responsible for breaking into vehicles on Memorial University’s St. John’s campus seven years ago. Chipman was driving a stolen SUV the evening of Feb. 18, 2014, when police witnessed him breaking the window of a parked car and stealing a laptop and camera. Police officers confronted Chipman, who tried to escape in the vehicle, but it became stuck in a snowbank. As he continued to spin the tires, an RNC officer fired a shot through the driver’s window, grazing Chipman’s chest and elbow.

Chipman, who wasn’t seriously injured, got away, but was arrested hours later at a residence. He was eventually convicted of dangerous driving, theft and possession of stolen property, but was acquitted of charges of assaulting a police officer after a judge ruled police had used unjustified force and breached his rights.

An independent investigation determined a year later that the officer had acted appropriately.

Chipman filed a civil suit against the RNC in 2016 and it was settled out of court.


Tara Bradbury reports on justice and the courts in St. John's
[email protected]
Twitter: @tara_bradbury
Facebook: @telegramtara


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