Marys­town man found guilty of pos­sess­ing items stolen in jew­ellery store rob­bery

Crown did not prove he com­mit­ted church rob­bery, judge rules

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY PAUL HERRIDGE THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE pher­ridge@south­erngazette.ca

An­thony Cyril Far­rell has been found guilty of pos­sess­ing stolen items con­nected to a 2015 heist from a Marys­town jew­ellery store.

The Marys­town man faced eight charges in to­tal, in­clud­ing a break and en­ter at St. Pa­trick’s Parish Church in Burin that oc­curred in the fall of 2015 and a break-in at Sta­ple­ton’s Jew­ellery and Gifts in the Marys­town Mall on Nov. 16, 2015.

In Supreme Court in Grand Bank on July 20, Jus­tice San­dra Chay­tor con­victed Far­rell of the charge of pos­sess­ing stolen items.

He was sen­tenced to time served — up to the time of his sen­tenc­ing he had been in jail for 510 days — and one year of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion. He must also pay vic­tim sur­charges.

How­ever, the judge also ruled the Crown did not prove be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that Far­rell was guilty of com­mit­ting the break and en­ters.

In her writ­ten de­ci­sion, Chay­tor said the key ques­tions in the break and en­ters was whether or not it was Far­rell who had com­mit­ted the of­fenses.

In the church break-in, she ques­tioned the re­li­a­bil­ity of the ev­i­dence pro­vided in the case and found that the Crown had not proved be­yond a rea­son­able doubt he was guilty.

She also found af­ter con­sid­er­ing all the Crown’s ev­i­dence that con­nected or could po­ten­tially con­nect Far­rell to the break and en­ter at the jew­elry store that it, too, fell short of prov­ing be­yond a rea­son­able doubt he was guilty.

“At most the ev­i­dence es­tab­lished that the ac­cused had knowl­edge of and was in the pres­ence of the stolen items af­ter the of­fence oc­curred,” Chay­tor wrote.

Far­rell was charged with two counts of pos­ses­sion of items stolen from the jew­ellery store.

Chay­tor con­victed Far­rell on one of those charges.

Ken­neth Sta­ple­ton, owner of Sta­ple­ton’s Jew­ellery and Gifts, tes­ti­fied dur­ing the trial his store con­tained sig­nif­i­cant in­ven­tory at the time of the break and en­ter due to the up­com­ing Christ­mas sea­son. He es­ti­mated he lost in­ven­tory val­ued at a re­tail price of $115,000 as a re­sult of the crime.

Chay­tor found the Crown proved its case Far­rell had been in pos­ses­sion of a zip lock bag of jew­elry that it was claimed he sub­se­quently buried in the North­west Trail area and con­victed him on that count with a caveat.

Whether the amount of the goods in the zip lock bag­gie ex­ceeded $5,000, as per the charge, had not been proven.

Chay­tor said she ac­cepted the RCMP’s in­ven­tory of the items found – five bracelets, 21 chains, two ear­rings, two pen­dants, and 63 rings, in­clud­ing one cus­tom-made di­a­mond ring, as per Sta­ple­ton’s tes­ti­mony.

While it was clear the value of the jew­ellery was sig­nif­i­cant, Chay­tor wrote, the Crown did not present ev­i­dence to specif­i­cally ad­dress the value of the items and es­tab­lish its worth as greater than $5,000.

Mean­while, there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to con­vict him of pos­ses­sion of other items found from the crime.

On Dec. 14, 2015, act­ing on in­for­ma­tion they had re­ceived, po­lice searched and lo­cated a garbage bag with a back­pack inside it near the en­trance to Dick’s Head on the out­skirts of Marys­town.

The back­pack con­tained jew­ellery, in­clud­ing a large num­ber of wrist­watches. The back­pack was pro­cessed by an RCMP foren­sic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion spe­cial­ist and sam­ples sent to a lab in Bri­tish Columbia.

Chay­tor wrote she was not sat­is­fied the Crown had es­tab­lished be­yond a rea­son­able doubt that Far­rell was in the pos­ses­sion of the jew­ellery con­tained in the back­pack and dis­missed that charge.

Sta­ple­ton iden­ti­fied items re­trieved by po­lice in the back­pack as be­ing from his store, as well as those con­tained in the zip lock bag found on the North­west Trail.

Far­rell was also found not guilty of a per­jury charge that stemmed from com­ments he made dur­ing a bail hear­ing on Feb. 25, 2016. The ev­i­dence was not suf­fi­cient to es­tab­lish the charge, Chay­tor wrote in her de­ci­sion.

Far­rell did not tes­tify dur­ing the trial.

His cau­tioned po­lice state­ment and a tran­script from the bail hear­ing were both en­tered into ev­i­dence by con­sent, how­ever. He de­nied he com­mit­ted the jew­ellery store break-in and noted the big­gest part he played was “look­ing at it all.” He also told po­lice they would never get all the jew­ellery back be­cause “it’s gone to the bik­ers.”

For the count of pos­sess­ing the stolen jew­ellery for which he was con­victed, Far­rell was also found guilty of breach­ing the terms of his pro­ba­tion. The three other pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion charges against him were dis­missed with the not guilty ver­dicts.

Dur­ing the break-in at St. Pa­trick’s Parish Church in Burin, a large safe con­tain­ing $4,000 in cash, church records and other items was stolen.

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