Four years in jail for ‘predatory’ thefts from elderly Chilliwack residents

In one case, Donald Quinnell stole $400 from a tea cozy owned by a 93-year-old woman in a retirement home

Donald Quinnell was sentenced on Dec. 17 to four more years in jail for 22 counts of fraud and theft against senior citizens in Chilliwack and Agassiz. He was sentenced to six years for similar crimes in Alberta in 2008.

A man who stole or defrauded thousands of dollars from dozens elderly people in Chilliwack and Agassiz was sentenced to four years in jail in Chilliwack provincial court on Thursday.

Donald Quinnell pleaded guilty to 22 counts of fraud and theft under $5,000—he was originally charged with 15 counts of fraud and 14 counts of theft—for a string of incidents before and over Christmas of 2014.

Quinnell preyed upon vulnerable, older and trusting individuals with complicated, confusing and calculated scams.

He had a variety of scams: In some he would convince a Good Samaritan to “lend” him money for a tow truck after a supposed accident, others were giving someone a deal on carpets or appliances, others were simple distraction thefts.

“These offences can only be seen as predatory in nature and premeditated,” Judge Wendy Young said in handing down her sentence Dec. 17.

“Their collective trust has been shattered,” Young said as she recounted parts of the 16 victim impact statements provided to the court.

His defence claimed these were crimes of opportunity by a drug-addicted man, but the research into the names of neighbours and familiarity with some victim’s situations illustrated quite the opposite.

Young recounted all 22 cases in court, which included: stealing $100 and a camera from a man; convincing a woman to give him $600 to buy appliances; stealing a wallet with $100 and irreplaceable photos of grandchildren; and taking more than $400 in cash in an envelope in a tea cozy from a 93-year-old woman in her retirement home.

Victims said they longer trusted people at their door, others complained of a loss of sleep, one man said he has spent money to retrofit his house with security, and yet another woman complained of having to spend Christmas giving statements to police.

“There collective trust has been shattered,” Young told the court.

Young agreed to a joint submission from Crown and defence for a sentence of five years, with credit for one year Quinnell has already served in pre-trial custody. She pointed to his long criminal record for similar offences.

And while this is less than the six-year sentence he received in 2008 in Calgary for a similar string of frauds and thefts, there were many more victims in that case, more money involved, and, in the Chilliwack case, his guilty plea saved the courts and the victims the difficulty of what would have been a long and complicated trial.

Still, Quinnell offered little if any sympathy for the victims of his crimes, instead in a tearful apology at his sentencing hearing on Dec. 3 he mostly wept for the hurt he had caused his family and himself.

“I truly am a good person when cocaine is not ruining my life,” he said.

His lawyer also complained that he had been beaten up twice at the North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre when fellow inmates found out what he had done.

Quinnell has a spouse who is sticking by his side. He also has a two-and-a-half-year-old child, a baby that he used in at least one of the scams in the current file and in another in a prior conviction.

The Crown did not seek restitution of the lost money, pointing to the small chance of success in recovering the cash. As for a victim impact surcharge, this is usually calculated at $200 per offence, which would have meant a $4,400 bill upon his release. Instead, it is customary to order one day in custody for every $100, and Young granted this 44 days in custody to be served concurrently.

Just Posted

Chilliwack goes cluck-cluck for chickens ahead of civic election

With an election in sight, urban chickens supporters ramp up their efforts for legal acceptance

Wildfire smoke brings in air quality advisory for Lower Mainland

People with health conditions are urged to avoid the outdoors

Mt. Hicks fire near Harrison Lake continues to grow

The fire, which started Wednesday, has forced the intermittent closure of Highway 7

U.S. flight museum founder ID’ed as pilot in Abbotsford International Airshow crash

Pilot John Sessions was giving rides in a vintage 1930s airliner at the airport in Abbotsford.

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

A look at B.C. wildfire smoke from space

NASA provides a timelapse of smoke covering B.C. from space

Child dies in boating incident in Okanagan

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kalamalka Lake in Vernon when the incident occured

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Province calls for federal aid

More fires have burned in B.C. already this year than did in all of 2017

Kayak in Indian Arm waters off B.C.’s Deep Cove and feast on famous doughnuts

About a half hour drive from Vancouver, Deep Cove is a great kayaking spot for locals and tourists

Child, 4, attacked by cougar near Fernie

The BC Conservation Officer Service said it happened while the family was fishing

Trans Mountain pipeline protesters practise resisting police at Camp Cloud

Last week, a Supreme Court judge granted the City of Burnaby an injunction ordering protesters to remove everything from the site

Drug-checking started as pilot in four B.C. communities to test for fentanyl

Substance is mixed with water on test strip, and result is revealed in minutes

Gun used in Fredericton killings is legal, man had licence

Police Chief Leanne Fitch said the long gun is commonly available for purchase, and is not a prohibited or restricted weapon

Ontario will sell pot online when legalization comes in the fall

There are further plans to have pot in private retail stores in early 2019

Most Read