Penticton thief will spend 39 more days in jail after robbing a home and stealing a boat

Boat thief given 300 days

One of the thieves who led RCMP on a chase after stealing a boat in June of 2019 will spend 39 more days in jail accounting for time served, followed by a two-year probation.

Owen Big Charles, 33, appeared in Penticton court Wednesday by video from the Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) and had previously pleaded guilty to one count of break and enter and one count of stolen property relating to the incident.

Crown council detailed the events of the day, with police receiving a call at 5:43 a.m. on June 25, 2019, from a Red Wing Estates area resident stating that someone was stealing her boat.

The witness also reported that their neighbour’s garage had been broken into, totalling two break and enters in the area. The key for the boat had been accounted for, but the chains previously holding the boat were severed.

Eventually, the boat was started and the thieves made their way to the east side of Okanagan Lake. Two males in dark clothing could be seen from a photo one of the owners of the boat took. Big Charles and Devon White were later identified.

Back-up assistance was called in by police, including air support, a boat for shoreline control and canine units.

Big Charles and White landed on the east side near Munson Mountain and were followed by police.

A ‘fairly significant’ foot pursuit followed, with police following the path in part due to them dumping various stolen items as they ran. These included a black briefcase, passports, cheque books and ammunition.

“Police had their work cut out for them in ultimately capturing the two accused,” Crown said.

At around 8:45 a.m., police received information from a witness that he had seen the suspect ducking in behind grape vines near the KVR trail in the area.

Police air services later reported seeing the two males trying to hide by lying down in the orchard at that location.

Officers found Big Charles attempting to conceal himself in the orchard, who refused to comply with police orders and tried to kick the canine unit while they made attempts to arrest him.

He was eventually wrestled to the ground by an officer and received a bite on the ankle from the police dog.

White was also chased after and apprehended by police in the orchard, spotted crawling between rows of grapes.

Police later took a statement from Big Charles, who explained that he was living in the streets and dealing with an addiction to alcohol and methamphetamine for the past three years.

He said he spent his nights riding around looking for ‘stuff to steal’ and then trade later for drugs.

Big Charles had run into White the day before the break and enter, stating that White had suggested the break-in at Red Wing Estates. Big Charles also added he broke into just one home.

He also said they had no escape plan, it was ill-considered and unplanned on their part.

A joint submission from Crown and Defence counsel Nelson Selamaj asked the court for 10-to-12 months in jail, followed by a two-year probation.

Crown also detailed Big Charles’s past record, having been in and out of custody since the incident. He has been incarcerated for a total of 200 days, with the court giving him credit for 261 days spent in custody pre-sentence.

He was sentenced to 300 days, meaning with that time served, he will spend 39 more days behind bars.

Selamaj addressed his client’s past, who is of Indigenous descent and from Grand Prairie, Alta. He added Big Charles had a difficult childhood, been neglected as a child, moved between families’ homes, ending up in a foster care home with‘ excessive physical and verbal abuse.’ He eventually quit school in Grade 11.

Selamaj added that he was putting in an effort in his addiction recovery.

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