(THUNDER BAY, ONT) – Appearing handcuffed in the prisoner’s box of courtroom 102 on May 18th, 2018, is 28-year-old Francis Valle. His Honour, Dino DiGiuseppe presiding, along with Mary-Ann Mackett as Crown Attorney, and Michael Hargadon as defence lawyer.
Valle is in the prisoner’s box and seems to have an angry look on his face. He is also quite fidgety and stares down multiple people in the courtroom.
ADMITTED FACTS – LITTLE MERMAID BREAK AND ENTER
March 12th, 2017, around 10:00 am Thunder Bay Police Service officers that were on patrol noticed the front window was smashed at 424 Victoria Avenue East(The Little Mermaid). They determined no one was inside. Around 11:00 am the owner of the business attended the scene.
The owner determined that 4 items had been stolen from the front of the business, and estimated the value of the stolen property to be around $2000. The damage to the window was estimated around $1000.
Video surveillance footage of the incident was obtained by police from a neighbouring business, in which they could see the two suspects commit the crime around 7:18 am.
Furthermore, video surveillance from the Royal Edwards Arms at 114 May Street, which shows these two suspects leaving the building around 7:17 am, and returning at around 7:23 am with the stolen items in hand.
March 13th, 2017 There was also a second break and enter with the same two suspects around 7:10 am. Additional video surveillance was obtained from the Royal Edward Arms surrounding the second incident, in which the same two suspects were on video exiting than entering the Royal Edward Arms within a timeline consistent with the break and enter.
The video surveillance showed which apartment the two suspects went into. Shortly after, the police attended the apartment the suspects went into and questioned the occupants.
Immediately upon their arrival, the residents there were very cooperative with police and did not want to be involved. The residents took the officers to where a large stack of clothing was, including the stolen items from The Little Mermaid.
The residents provided the names of Jacob Begin and Francis Valle as the two men who brought the merchandise into the apartment. The residents were too scared to provide video statements or written statements regarding the situation, but they did provide information to police.
Defence lawyer Michael Hargadon submits that the video was in fact of such low quality that nobody could be identified from the footage, but indicates that the facts are correct.
He also mentions that the co-accused Jacob Begin has already plead guilty to this incident.
His Honour Digiuuseppe finds Valle guilty based on the facts.
ADMITTED FACTS – RESIDENTIAL BREAK AND ENTER
June 28th, 2017, at around 11:37 pm in the 1100 block of Victoria Avenue East officers were dispatched in regards to yelling in the area. En route to the incident, they were informed that it was a break and enter in progress.
The complainants had held down both suspects, one in the backyard, and a second one in the basement. The male in the basement was cooperative, and Francis Valle was being held down in the backyard.
Witnesses on the scene say that entry into the residence was made through a side door of the apartment building. A separate resident of the building and their guest heard noises and went to take a look. Once looking at the unit in questions door, the two civilians noticed the screen door was open and went in to take a closer look.
The two men were quickly subdued Valle in the backyard, while the second suspect was held in the basement. Valle had a leg injury and was taken to the hospital for examination after police came and detained the two suspects.
Defence lawyer Michael Hargadon states that he does not admit any facts regarding the second suspect, as he is still going through trial, but does admit that the facts regarding Valle are substantially correct.
His Honour DiGiuseppe finds Valle guilty based on the statement of facts.
ADMITTED FACTS – THEFT FROM WAL-MART
February 14th, 2018 at roughly 1:00 pm at an Arthur Street Wal-Mart, Valle committed theft. An employee and an off duty police officer had detained Valle in the parking when he tried to escape.
Earlier Valle grabbed a Black and Decker drill set ($120 approximate value), then made his way out the store past all points of sale. The loss prevention officer grabbed Valle outside and advised him of the arrest.
Surveillance video had captured the theft, which showed Valle running out of the store with the drill set. Valle was already on probation when this incident occurred.
Defence lawyer Michael Hargadon admits that the facts regarding Wal-Mart are substantially correct.
His Honour DiGiuseppe finds Valle guilty based on the statement of facts.
Defence lawyer Hargadon indicates that this is a joint submission, and is recommending that for the break and enter on The Little Mermaid would be a 9-month sentence which includes 270 days enhanced credit for 180 days of pre-sentence custody, concurrent on both counts. Valle would have to submit his DNA to the DNA database as well.
Also a 12-month probation order with the following conditions
- Required to report to probation
- Take any programs/counselling regarding substance abuse as directed by probation
- Do not attend The Little Mermaid
- No contact/communication with the owner of The Little Mermaid
- Restitution order of $2200
Regarding the residential break and enter in the 1100 block of Victoria Avenue East, Hargadon recommends 180 days credit for 120 days of pre-sentence custody. 1 day served for breach of bail conditions, concurrent. There will also be an order to submit his DNA to the DNA database.
A 12-month probation period is also recommended for this charge, with fundamentally the same conditions as the previous break and enter, but for Valle to not attend the home in the 1100 block of Victoria Avenue East, and to not contact or communicate with the resident of that apartment.
BACKGROUND OF FRANCIS VALLE
Valle was born in Thunder Bay, he is of a Spanish background. His mother and father are still alive, although his father has had virtually nothing to do with him since birth. He has six children in total and another one on the way.
Valle has taken on contract jobs for the Royal Edward Arms, and various other places for things such as roofing and repair.
He struggles with a cocaine addiction that began at the age of 12-years-old. His drug problems have increased since the age of 16. Valle’s drug addiction has somewhat been in remission, but somewhat not.
All of these offences were committed as a result of drug-seeking behaviour. The Little Mermaid break and enter was committed for personal gain, but the personal gain was made so that he could go and buy drugs. Valle’s desperation during the Wal-Mart theft, shows that he was struggling with drug addiction when he walks into a store and steals something on camera.
Valle’s criminal record has convictions related to these charges, and Valle has already done time behind bars. Valle will be released roughly around June 23rd, 2018.
The Crown states that small business owners struggle to make a living and that it’s not easy to make a legitimate living. Valle had cleared out a-lot of property.
It was only by chance through the investigation that some of these properties were returned, and some were damaged.
She states that break and enters into peoples homes can become so dangerous so fast especially if a homeowner is inside, sleeping or otherwise. These crimes of opportunities may be perhaps justified in Valle’s mind, but cause so much financial and psychological damage to others, while he continues with his addiction is unwarranted the Crown states.
Society needs him to take some responsibility, the Crown says, he has been on probation multiple times since 2010, and he was on probation when he committed more crimes. The victims of these various offences need to be heard, small business owners and homeowners.
HIS HONOURS DECISION
His Honour DiGiuseppe asks Valle if there is anything he has to say, Valle accepts the offer and says “Yeah actually, uhmm I’d like to apologize actually” he then goes on to mention how businesses struggle and speaks to the time he’s lost, the family and birthdays he’s lost, then apologizes again.
His Honour accepts his statement as a sign of remorse and believes that he has had time to reflect on what he did during his time in custody. His Honour urges Valle to make use of the programs available during probation.
His Honour is satisfied with the joint sentencing submission and states that it serves to deter and denounce others from doing the same and that it also serves to protect the victims of these crimes.
Valle is escorted out of the prisoner’s box, and back into the basement of the Thunder Bay Courthouse, where he awaits his ride back to jail. I noticed him smirk as he was lead out of the courtroom.
Valle has another courtdate set for June 5th, 2018, in which he will answer to his remaining charges.
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Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.