Pic­tou County thief gets 57 months in prison

‘A very sub­stan­tial crim­i­nal record’ goes back 35 years and in­cludes 106 prior con­vic­tions

The News (New Glasgow) - - PICTOU COUNTY - BY CHRIS LAMBIE

A man with a “life­long com­pul­sion to steal” will have time to mull over his thiev­ing ways af­ter a Pic­tou judge sen­tenced him to 57 months be­hind bars for a bizarre se­ries of thefts in­clud­ing one where he set up a tent to con­duct a yard sale on the prop­erty of a woman whose trailer he’d looted.

Arthur Stu­art Bax­ter pleaded guilty to theft, and pos­sess­ing stolen goods, in­clud­ing a shot­gun, near Hal­ibur­ton, Pic­tou County, on Aug. 1, 2017. The 51-year-old also pleaded guilty to steal­ing a truck on June 8, 2018 in Bar­neys River.

“Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a com­plaint from a neigh­bour, po­lice in­ves­ti­gated and found Mr. Bax­ter liv­ing in a tent on the prop­erty of Judy Rus­sell,” Nova Scotia Supreme Court Jus­tice Pa­trick Dun­can said in a writ­ten de­ci­sion re­leased Tues­day. “On ar­rival at the prop­erty they found the ac­cused to be in pos­ses­sion of sev­eral items be­long­ing to Ms. Rus­sell. He had been con­duct­ing a yard sale of items that he had taken from a trailer on the prop­erty.

“Some items had been sold. The po­lice were able to re­cover some of the items and the loss to Ms. Rus­sell has been de­scribed by the Crown as ‘nom­i­nal.’”

Bax­ter, who didn’t have a firearms li­cence, had a shot­gun on him that he’d stolen from Rus­sell’s trailer.

Po­lice then fig­ured out Bax­ter had stolen the 2015 Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado be­long­ing to Bev­erly Wil­liams.

“It was re­cov­ered in a com­mer­cial park­ing lot in New Glas­gow,” Dun­can said.

“There were wal­lets and cash be­long­ing to Ms. Wil­liams and her hus­band, in­side the ve­hi­cle. Pur­chases val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately $1,317 were made us­ing Mr. Wil­liams’ debit card. An amount es­ti­mated be­tween $1,200 and $1,500 cash was al­leged by Ms. Wil­liams to be in the truck when it was stolen. The money was not re­cov­ered.”

The judge pointed out that Bax­ter has “a very sub­stan­tial crim­i­nal record” that goes back 35 years and in­cludes 106 prior con­vic­tions.

“My re­view of the record in­di­cates that the of­fences are largely prop­erty-re­lated crimes. There are no crimes of vi­o­lence,” Dun­can said. “As he de­scribed it to­day Mr. Bax­ter has had a life­long com­pul­sion to steal that he does not un­der­stand. He won­ders if there is a phys­i­o­log­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal rea­sons for his be­hav­iour. That is some­thing that, given his his­tory, may be worth ex­plor­ing with Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices while he is serv­ing his sen­tence.”

The pros­e­cu­tor and Bax­ter’s lawyer both rec­om­mended he be sen­tenced to 57 months in prison for his re­cent crimes.

“There has been time spent in pre-sen­tence cus­tody,” Dun­can said. “Coun­sel agree that the ac­cused should get a credit of 21 months for that time. The re­sult is a go-for­ward sen­tence, be­gin­ning to­day, of three years in cus­tody.”

That sen­tence is ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause it falls within the range of pun­ish­ment for sim­i­lar crimes, the judge said.

“In this case, any re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive pro­gram­ming will have to be ad­dressed through Cor­rec­tion Ser­vices Canada, and, of course, by Mr. Bax­ter him­self. There may be a med­i­cal rea­son for his con­duct, but it is not of such a na­ture as to re­lieve him of the crim­i­nal law con­se­quences for his crimes,” Dun­can said. “There is prob­a­bly not much that I could say to you to­day, Mr. Bax­ter, that other judges have not said to you on other oc­ca­sions be­fore to­day. At some point you are go­ing to have to make a de­ci­sion as to where you in­tend to spend the rest of your life, whether it’s go­ing to be in prison, or not. At your age, maybe the de­ci­sion is al­ready ev­i­dent. It will be up to you to de­cide how you want to spend your old age.”

While he had doubts about whether Bax­ter will be able to pay a fine, Dun­can or­dered him to pay an $800 vic­tim sur­charge by the fall of 2021.

The judge also banned Bax­ter from pos­sess­ing any firearm for five years.

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