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Judge goes easy on woman charged in Alberta butcher store break-in

44-year-old woman with no criminal record and two kids gets year of probation after judge rejects plea deal.
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One of two people implicated in the June 23 break-in at the Westlock Butcher Shop has received a conditional discharge, a sentence that includes a year of probation and 25 hours of community service.

WESTLOCK, Alta. – One of the two people implicated in the June 23 break-in at the Westlock Butcher Shop will serve a year of probation and perform 25 hours of community service as part of a conditional discharge.

In Westlock provincial court Aug. 9, Angela Melissa Wells, 44, pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property over $5,000 and received a conditional discharge from Judge Clifton Purvis, who rejected a joint-sentence submission for a $2,500 fine from Crown prosecutor Patricia Hankinson and duty counsel Gail Gerhart.

Judge Purvis appeared taken aback when he learned Wells, who’s a mother of two young children, had no previous criminal record, supports herself on long-term disability and that her common-law relationship with the co-accused, Travis Leo Lawrence Jean, was over as she’s had no contact with him since the crime. Jean, who’s currently behind bars at the Edmonton Remand Centre, has yet to enter a plea on counts of possession of stolen property over $5,000 and break and enter.

“You’re 44 years old, you have no criminal record and you’ve got two kids you’re looking after? OK, listen I’m not going along with the joint submission and I’m going to do something totally different,” said Judge Purvis, who also declined to impose a victim-fine surcharge. “If you comply with all the terms of probation, you’re going to get a conditional discharge so that means you won’t have a criminal record.”

In addition to 25 hours of community service work, which must be completed within the next 10 months, plus the probation order which includes a host of conditions, Wells is barred from coming within 100 metres of the butcher shop and contacting Jean. Although the court received a victim-impact statement regarding the crime, it was not read into the record with Judge Purvis saying, “We’ll retain it on file for the charges that relate to Mr. Jean.”

Hankinson told court that overnight June 23, RCMP were called after the front door of the butcher shop had been smashed in and approximately $10,000 in “meat, spices, rubs, sauces and tools” were pinched.

“A review of video surveillance showed Mr. Jean had entered the building,” said Hankinson.  

 Following the break-in, police ended up at the residence of Jean and Wells and located about $6,000 worth of the stolen items.

“The items were in plain view and present throughout the residence and she would have known they were stolen,” she added.

George Blais,