Crime spree results in 26-month jail term
Arrest outside Virgil store last September
A 25-year-old man wanted by several police agencies in connection with a month-long crime spree across southern Ontario in 2017 has been sentenced to 26 months in jail.
In Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines on Wednesday, Kevin Stapleford-Francalanza was convicted of 29 charges, including dangerous driving, car theft and shoplifting.
Judge Fergus O’Donnell gave the defendant credit for the time he had spent in pretrial custody and the sentence was reduced to another 12½ months behind bars.
Assistant Crown attorney
Todd Morris had asked the judge to consider a jail term of three years.
He said the extended crime spree was “fuelled by addiction.”
Court heard Stapleford-Francalanza, a first-time offender, was battling a $300 a day addiction to both heroin and fentanyl at the time of the incidents.
“… probably the toughest addictions to kick,” Morris said.
The crime spree ran from August through September 2017, with offences taking place across Niagara as well as in Kitchener, Guelph, Oakville, Norfolk County and Burlington.
Many of the crimes were shoplifting offences. Court heard the defendant would enter stores and select merchandise such as televisions and simply walk out of the business without paying.
He would also take vehicles for test drives and not return them.
In mid-September, several Niagara Regional Police cruisers surrounded Stapleford-Francalanza as he consumed drugs in a car parked at a Niagara-on-theLake grocery store.
Court heard the defendant rammed the police cruisers until a gap formed, enabling him to drive away. No injuries were reported but damage was pegged at more than $15,000.
Stapleford-Francalanza was arrested at a shopping mall in Vaughan on Sept. 29 following an altercation with a police officer. The officer suffered minor injuries in the incident.
Defence lawyer V.J. Singh told the judge his client, despite his addictions, has managed to stay clean while in custody at Niagara Detention Centre.
“The saying he’s in jail so he’s not using drugs doesn’t apply
anymore,” Singh said. “Drugs are alive and well. There’s an opioid crisis in our institutions.”
Five inmates were treated for drug overdoses at the Thorold jail in March.
Ontario’s police watchdog agency was called in to investigate following Stapleford-Francalanza’s arrest as he had sustained injuries during his arrest.
“He was so badly beaten up he was hospitalized,” Singh said of his client.
The Special Investigations Unit continues to investigate the matter.