A Penticton man who has pleaded guilty to numerous charges involving stolen property, mail theft, cheques and probation breaches may have just a few months left to spend behind bars once his sentencing finally concludes.
In Penticton Provincial Court Wednesday, Mark Anthony Stewart, 39, appeared via video from custody for a sentencing hearing, having pleaded guilty to a string of criminal instances stretching back to 2020.
Court heard that in the early hours of the morning on Dec. 24, 2020, RCMP responded to the Penticton IGA store on Government Street, after reports of two suspects breaking into a mailbox. They fled in a white Ford Bronco.
Later that same day, an RCMP member noticed a vehicle with the same description driving in the area. The Bronco's license plate matched one that hat been reported stolen earlier in the month.
RCMP members converged on the car, and recognized Stewart as having been the driver of the car on previous occasions, arresting him for possession of stolen property.
Inside the Bronco, police found cheques and other mail that appeared to have been stolen from the Government Street mailbox earlier that morning. Charges against Stewart were approved, and police said they hoped the charges would "have a direct impact, and help prevent these kinds of thefts from re-occurring.”
Stewart was released on bail conditions. Then, on January 6 2021, around 10 a.m. in the morning an RCMP officer on patrol noticed a distinctive station wagon parked at the Government Street property Stewart was known to live at.
Later, he noticed the same vehicle with its engine running outside the TD Bank on Main Street, and when a fellow officer did a drive-by, they recognized Stewart behind the wheel.
When the car left the bank, after a person left it and got in the passenger seat, cops pulled it over and arrested Stewart for breaching his driving prohibition.
A wallet in Stewart's pocked contained ID from an Okanagan man that had been previously reported stolen, and the TD Bank manager handed over to police a cheque that appeared to be from a Lake Country veterinarian, which workers at the bank had flagged as suspicious and refused to cash.
A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up many cheques from multiple different Okanagan businesses totalling in the thousands of dollars.
All of the businesses later confirmed to police Stewart did not have authorization to write cheques in their name. The search also turned up several bank cards in the name of the man whose stolen ID was found.
Stewart was then once again released on bail conditions.
In April, police noted he breached his curfew conditions, and a similar incident then happened in July.
On July 22, 2021, when police arrived at Stewart's Government Street address, he was arrested on outstanding warrants. He has been in custody since.
A joint submission from Crown and defence is proposed which, once days already served behind bars and enhanced credit for pre-sentencing incarceration are calculated, would add up to 94 new days in jail.
But by the time Crown counsel had finished Wednesday afternoon, the judge had run out of time to hear from defence and then pass sentence.
Stewart will appear in court again at a later date to learn his amended sentence, based on whether the judge accepts the proposal from Crown and defence and the number of days he continues to serve in the meantime.