Theft a turning point for addict now in treatment

The theft of two bags of biscotti and a two-litre jug of milk from a European food store 18 months ago marked the turning point for a street-entrenched addict, Victoria provincial court has heard.

Kevin Dillon is sober and doesn’t want to cycle in and out of custody anymore, his defence lawyer Chantelle Sutton said at Dillon’s sentencing hearing.

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“I’ve been his lawyer for a number of years and I’m very impressed with Mr. Dillon,” Sutton told Judge Robert Higinbotham. “In the past, he would get charges and do his time and head back out to the life he was living before. Something particularly significant in him changed.”

Crown prosecutor Paul Pearson told the court the theft from Yumbrosia Fine Foods on Eastdowne Road near Foul Bay Road on Dec. 7, 2019 was aggravated by the fact that Dillon pulled a knife out of his pocket when the store owner followed him out of the store.

Dillon brandished the knife at the owner, dropped it, then fumbled with it and rode off on his bicycle.

“The concerning thing for the Crown is obviously the use of the knife in the course of a theft. It’s close to a robbery situation,” said Pearson.

Dillon has a lengthy criminal record that includes four assaults, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. In recent years, he received long sentences primarily for drug offences. The theft with a knife was his first violent offence since 2015, said Pearson.

But a pre-sentence report revealed a difficult upbringing that left Dillon homeless at age 11.

“He obviously has had a number of barriers right from the beginning and has struggled with those,” said Pearson. “Addiction has clearly been at the root of most of the challenges he has faced in his adult life.”

Dillon, who appeared by phone from a treatment centre on the Lower Mainland, has done well under strict bail conditions and has been on electronic monitoring since Dec. 10, said Pearson, who urged the judge to require Dillon to undergo counselling, including residential treatment if necessary.

Sutton agreed with the counselling condition and told the judge Dillon should be given the maximum amount of credit for changing his life.

“So what changed?” asked Higinbotham.

Sutton suggested Dillon, at 30, had matured and was looking at significant jail time for the theft from Yumbrosia Foods.

“He was getting bigger and bigger sentences and using significant amounts of heroin and fentanyl. Something significant in him changed and he decided this was not the life he wanted to be living,” said Sutton.

Dillon spent 170 days in custody for the theft, the equivalent of eight and a half months in jail, before he began treatment in December.

Higinbotham agreed with the defence that no further jail time was warranted and sentenced Dillon to time served.

“I am impressed by what I hear about your perseverance lately, seeking treatment. … And I understand you may never have had any treatment before,” said Higinbotham. “So there is a desire on your part to get over the drug issue, to get gainful employment and you’ve worked pretty hard to do that.”

Higinbotham placed Dillon on 15 months’ probation and ordered him to complete any counselling program, including residential treatment, ­recommended by his probation officer.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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