Windsor Star

Judge jails biting burglar

- SARAH SACHELI

Harvey Burns walked into a Francois Road home in the middle of the night and helped himself to the fridge before curling up with a warm blanket.

When confronted by the homeowner, Burns first threatened to kill the man, then bit him.

Burns, 46, pleaded guilty in Ontario court Friday to break and enter, assault and uttering threats. In jail since his arrest June 9, Burns was sentenced to 13½ more months in jail.

The homeowner awoke sometime after 2 a.m. and noticed a light on in the house. When he walked into the kitchen, he saw the fridge door ajar. Thinking his son was awake, he called to him, but the voice that responded was unfamiliar.

“I got a girl up here,” Burns shouted down the stairs. Burns then came down the stairs in nothing but his boxers with a blanket covering his face.

As the homeowner dialed police, Burns attacked, scratching and biting the man. He threatened to kill the man.

The homeowner put Burns in a headlock and awaited police. When police arrived, they handcuffed Burns. Burns got away and dove into the backyard pool. Still handcuffed, he had to be rescued from drowning.

Burns had gained access to the home through an unlocked door. Police believe his motive was theft — a guitar and two Windsor Spitfire jerseys inside the house had been moved.

Burns had stripped down before entering the house, leaving his clothing on the grass near the back stairs.

Court heard Burns suffers from mental health issues as well as drug and alcohol addictions. Police detected a strong odour of alcohol on his breath at the time of his arrest. He also had difficulty walking, at least in part from paralysis due to a stroke years earlier.

Burns has a criminal record dating back to 1976. Defence lawyer Travis Hughes said Burns has always been in and out of jail, including one stint in a federal penitentia­ry.

His last conviction was for stealing car keys from a coat pocket at a bowling alley, taking the car to run errands, then returning the car to the bowling alley parking lot, leaving it with the engine still running. The car’s owner, who had called police before the car was returned, was perplexed until he found a stranger’s wallet and identifica­tion in the front seat. The wallet led to Burns’s quick arrest.

“It’s the crime of a guy with mental health issues,” Hughes said. “These people get swept up in the justice system but the justice system is not really geared to help them.”

Ontario court Justice Lloyd Dean recommende­d Burns serve his sentence at the St. Lawrence Valley Correction­al and Treatment Centre in Brockville, Ont., where he can get mental health treatment.

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