16 months for truck thefts

The co-accused in back-to-back truck thefts last summer was handed a 16-month jail sentence in Penticton court on Thursday.

Michael Carlston was one of two men involved in a string of vehicle thefts on Aug 2.

The 40-year-old Carlston was first arrested after trying to steal an ATV on Hudson Street. After fleeing in a stolen Ford F-350, he was eventually apprehended by police, but was released on a promise to appear. He was also under surveillance by the targeted enforcement unit.

Nonetheless, just hours after being released, Carlston and his co-accused stole a Chevrolet pickup truck on Brandon Avenue. They were arrested a short time later on Taggart Crescent off of Highway 3A, and Carlston has remained in custody since then.

He pleaded guilty on Thursday for theft of a motor vehicle and driving while prohibited. 

"I've gone through some issues in my life, a lot of drug use ... I realize I'm not young anymore and I can't keep living like this," Carlston told the courtroom, appearing by video from the Okanagan Correctional Centre.

"I found myself in a city where I'm not from. The police seized my phone, I had no money ... I felt like I had no other option. I can't say that's an excuse because it's not, and I'm sorry for what I did."

Defence lawyer Jordan Watt requested a 12-month sentence for his client. He explained Carlston's difficult upbringing on a First Nations reserve in Manitoba where he didn't know his father and was subject to constant abuse from his mother's boyfriends.

Watt also noted the stolen vehicles were recovered intact and there was no dangerous driving involved.

Crown prosecutor Nashina Devji asked for 21 months total, pointing out Carlston's lengthy criminal record which includes 17 convictions for possession of stolen property and eight driving prohibitions.

Judge Robin Smith sentenced Carlston to 16 months in jail, minus 208 days of enhanced credit for time served. He also imposed a three-year driving prohibition.

Smith acknowledged the accused's deeply-entrenched drug addiction of 25 years, but pointed out his 20-plus year criminal record loomed large in his decision.

"He's an intelligent man, I've listened to him make corrections two or three times today, and every time he's been absolutely bang on," Smith said.

"He's an intelligent person, he can do better than this... I have no doubts he's at a good point in his life to try to turn it around and do better."

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