A Chilliwack man convicted of a string of identity thefts called his arrest and guilty plea a “rehabilitative moment.”
A provincial court judge agreed, sentencing Gregory James Samuel Cromarty Tuesday afternoon to time served plus a six-month conditional sentence order during which he must attend drug recovery treatment.
Cromarty’s lawyer had asked the court last week to release the 45-year-old on time served for the 12 charges to which he pleaded guilty. Crown counsel asked for an 18-month sentence followed by three years probation.
“Mr. Cromarty acted out of desperation and regrets the harm to all individuals,” defence lawyer Rebecca Gill said at the continuation of his sentencing hearing on Nov. 23.
Judge Wendy Young read her decision in court Nov. 28, releasing Cromarty after he has served 254 days at Surrey Pre-Trial Centre. With the standard 1.5-to-one credit, that amounts to a sentence of 381 days for the charges mostly related to identity theft.
In addition, Young added a six-month consecutive conditional sentence order and the three years probation agreed to by both sides.
Gill told the court that the Hope for Freedom Society drug recovery house in Port Coquitlam has a bed available for Cromarty now, something that may not be available if he were to serve a further six months in custody.
The court also heard at the sentencing hearing last week that Cromarty’s co-accused, Virginia Myles, was due to give birth to the couple’s second child the next day. That baby was indeed born in between the hearing and the sentencing.
Cromarty was emotional in the prisoner’s box as his lawyer discussed his addictions to opioids and methamphetamine and his plan to seek help at the recovery house.
Further to the request of the court for his immediate release to the recovery facility, Cromarty — rather than the Crown — asked the court to order he do 40-or-more hours of community service. Young did not order that community service.
“Mr. Cromarty wants to do something to give back,” Gill said, adding that he wants to go to the recovery house to distance himself from his contacts locally.
Cromarty was originally charged with 32 offences in connection with a crime spree in the first three months of this year where he fraudulently purchased $10,000 worth of merchandise, defrauding or attempting to defraud 27 different people.
Something that emerged in court was an allegation that Cromarty was threatened by a drug dealer into committing the crimes. The court heard that on a date before the offences occurred, he got into a stolen car driven by a woman. In the back seat was a man with a gun.
“Mr. Cromarty was told that it was time that he pay for his old drug debts,” Judge Young said in reading her decision.
Myles, who is not in custody, faced 15 charges and pleaded guilty to eight of them on Oct. 20. She is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 15.
After a search warrant was obtained for the house where they lived, police found keys, an embossing stamp, a set of licence plates, documents and ID in the names of various persons, an HP printer, and many cellphones.
All items Cromarty later told police were used to create the fake IDs, and all available at retail stores.
He told police it was easy “and that the police should have ‘somebody like us’ working for the RCMP.”
As part of his sentence, Cromarty was ordered, among other things, not to possess many of the items he used to commit the ID thefts, including: stamps, embossers, skimmers, blank credit cards, and templates to create IDs.