STRATFORD – As he was about to be sentenced for multiple thefts at convenience, department and liquor stores in Stratford and St. Marys, the accused apologized to the judge and blamed his behaviour on a longstanding drug addiction.
But he had a plan to turn his life around, he said.
“This time’s different,” Bradley Mills said Monday in a Stratford courtroom.
Unfortunately for him this statement was all too familiar to Ontario Court Justice Allan Maclure, who recalled being the judge who sentenced him for several similar crimes in London one year earlier.
“I strongly suspect that if I was that judge I heard the very same thing then as I’m hearing today,” said Maclure, who just so happened to be filling in on the Stratford bench Monday. “At some point it simply becomes talk – it’s meaningless.”
The judge pointed out Mills has 39 entries on his criminal record since 2009, including 20 property-related offences.
“You’re a chronic petty criminal, a nuisance to the community,” Maclure said to Mills while he stood in the prisoner’s box.
He compared the situation to a lung cancer patient who refuses to quit smoking.
“I hope you’re sincere – perhaps you are – but I’ve got very little confidence in your follow through,” he said.
The judge went on to accept a joint submission of four months in jail, but added he felt it was a “very lenient” sentence.
“I could see you getting six months on any one of those alone,” he said of the five theft charges Mills pleaded guilty to.
Then the judge abruptly released him, saying he sees “little point in keeping you in custody for another nine days.”
Mills – the 30-year-old was born in London and raised in St. Marys and Thorndale – received credit for 111 days in pre-sentence custody, just shy of the 120 total sought by the two lawyers.
Court heard in separate incidents Mills stole two 60-ounce bottles of whiskey from the St. Marys LCBO worth a total of $120, a $130 camouflage coat from the town’s Canadian Tire, and three DeWalt drill packages worth a total of $1,500. In two nearly identical heists, he stole two packages of cigarettes and lottery tickets from the West End Variety store in St. Marys and the East End Variety store in Stratford.
“Just walked out the door without paying,” Crown attorney Mary Potter said.
None of the stolen items were recovered. Mills was ordered to pay restitution of $84 to West End and $67.20 to East End.
Defence lawyer Amy Robern said his client’s battled an opioid addiction for the past decade.
“Your addiction is not an excuse,” Maclure said.
He also received two years’ probation.