Guilty plea in theft of truck, mischief at Manitoulin S. S. leads to conditional discharge, probation

GORE BAY – A Sudbury man has been given a conditional discharge and 18 months’ probation after a joyride in a stolen pickup truck in October 2019 ended with a single vehicle crash in the West End of Manitoulin Island. Tristian Wabano, now 19, appeared by video and pleaded guilty to theft and weapons charges, including possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000, mischief under $5,000 and unauthorized possession of a firearm. 

On Monday, October 21, 2019, Manitoulin OPP responded to a report of a pickup truck missing from the driveway of a residence in Little Current. Officers were then called to a single vehicle collision on Highway 540 at Sheshegwaning Road in Robinson Township. Another caller reported two young males walking on the highway nearby and that the men appeared to be intoxicated. The vehicle was located in a ditch and was missing its front bumper and licence plate. A shotgun that had been inside the truck was found secreted nearby.

A further call from Manitoulin Secondary School reported gratuitous damage in the form of deep tire tracks on the school’s soccer field as well as a damaged soccer net, with a truck bumper and licence plate caught within the netting. Police confirmed that the bumper belonged to the vehicle that had crashed in the West End and that it indeed was the truck reported stolen earlier that day from the address in Little Current. 

Attorney David Beaton argued for probation with a suspended sentence on behalf of the Crown while defence lawyer James Weppler argued that both the public and the accused would be better served by conditional discharge with probation. When considering the relevant factors such as Mr. Wabano’s age, his guilty plea and lack of previous involvement in the criminal justice system, the fact that there was alcohol involved, his interest in advancing his education, concrete goals in place for his future and the fact that the gun was not used, these all supported Mr. Weppler’s argument. Gladue principles were also taken into consideration when determining the appropriate sentencing.

Mr. Wabano received a conditional discharge with an 18-month period of probation. He was ordered to have no direct or indirect communication with the owners of the vehicle he had stolen. Mr. Wabano was banned from attending their residence and Manitoulin Secondary School property and was required to write a formal letter of apology to the school. He was also prohibited from possessing any firearms except for the purpose of traditional hunting practices, and under those circumstances only under the supervision of a family member with a hunting licence, for the duration of his probation term.

The co-accused, who was additionally charged with impaired driving over 80 miligrams, is scheduled to appear at court in Gore Bay in April.