Going to work is better than jail from a recovering addict, a judge has decided.
Andrew Tushingham, 27, was in Campbell River provincial court on Monday to plead guilty to two counts of theft under $5,000 and a single count of breaching his conditional sentence order.
Last October, he received an eight-month conditional sentence – meaning he could serve the sentence at home – after pleading guilty to stealing expensive camera equipment from family members.
The equipment was recovered from a pawn shop where Tushingham had sold it to pay for his opiate addiction. Until then, Tushingham had no previous criminal record.
He started using opiate drugs after becoming addicted to the prescription painkiller Oxycotin.
After being confronted with the theft of camera equipment, Tushingham was co-operative with authorities and later pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000.
He received the conditional sentence and 18 months probation, largely so he could deal with his addiction. But Tushingham was arrested again last November and charged with drug possession. He received a seven-day jail sentence and then returned to Campbell River.
He was still attempting to beat his addiction, but began to slip up. On Jan. 2, he was in the Courtenay Walmart store when an employee saw him taking cameras out of the packaging and hiding the cameras on a lower shelf.
He was confronted by the employee and, again, Tushingham was co-operative. He showed store security where he had hidden the cameras and told them he was going to give some away as gifts, sell others and perhaps keep one for himself.
He was arrested and released on conditions, but three days later, at the Save On Foods store in Campbell River, he was caught trying to steal almost $200 worth of goods.
According to Crown prosecutor Bruce Goddard, on all occasions Tushingham co-operated once he was caught and pleaded guilty rather than going to trial. However, the prosecutor asked the judge to revoke the conditional sentence and to send Tushingham to jail to serve out the balance of conditional sentence, plus 60 more days.
Goddard said it wouldn’t be appropriate for Tushingham to receive the same sentence for new offences.
However, defence lawyer Vince Martin said Tushingham has been “clean and sober” for two months and has a steady job with a chance of advancement. He also told the court that Tushingham has a business degree from an American university, has completed a substance abuse program, and is regularly attending meetings to deal with his addiction.
“It makes me very optimistic he has put his problems behind him,” said Martin. “Employment is the best guarantee that Mr. Tushingham will not be be back before the court.”
Tushingham told Judge Roderick Sutton that working has really helped him to stay clean and this is the best he’s been doing “in a long time.”
“I’m gaining trust back with my family and things are going really well,” he said.
Judge Sutton agreed and declined to send Tushingham to jail. He will serve out the remaining 87 days on his conditional sentence, plus another 45 for the new convictions. He is also still bound by the 18-month probation order.
“I think you’re fortunate…and I don’t want to see you slide back,” the judge told Tushingham.