| Oct 19, 2006


Feature Article - October 19, 2006

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Feature Article - October 19, 2006

Tichborne furnace vandals get 18 months probation

by JeffGreen

It was a senseless act of vandalism that had unforeseen, very expensive, consequences.

Adam Timmerman, 22, and Jerry Godfrey, 27, broke into an abandoned house in Tichborne in the spring of 2005 with the intention of stealing the furnace out of the basement. It turned out that they could not remove the furnace since it was affixed to a concrete pad, but in the attempt to steal it one of them severed the outlet pipe from the furnace.

Nothing much happened for several months. However, in October, the house, which was owned at the time by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, was sold. As normally happens when a house is sold, the oil tank is filled and the purchaser pays for a full tank of furnace oil.

Once the tank was full, it began leaking out into the basement. The sump pump kicked in and pumped the oil onto the ground in the direction of a pond that was behind the house. The smell of the oil attracted the attention of neighbours and the Ministry of the Environment and the OPP were called.

Amalgamation

In the end, Scot’s Environmental Services spent weeks cleaning up the site, and preventing the oil from seeping into the point, which feeds a creek that runs into the Rideau watershed. The house was torn down to allow for massive soil removal.

The buyer never took possession of the house and the bank was out several hundred thousand dollars.

It took some time, but OPP officers eventually arrested Timmerman and Godfrey. After several months of delay, the cases were scheduled for a preliminary hearing at Sharbot Lake Criminal Court this past Monday on charges of break and enter.

At the last minute, lawyers for the two men negotiated a plea to the lesser charge of mischief.

In a sentencing hearing, defence lawyers pointed out that the Crown’s case had been rather weak, and a conviction was by no means certain. As well, the Crown would certainly be unable to establish a direct criminal link between cutting the line to steal the tank, and the oil spill that occurred months later, according to the defence.

Adam Timmerman’s lawyer requested that Judge Wright grant a conditional discharge with 18 months probation, because Timmerman has no prior convictions, and has undergone an Algonquin Justice Circle as well.

“The public interest will not be hindered by such a sentence” Adam Timmerman’s lawyer said in his petition to Judge Wright.

Jerry Godfrey’s lawyer and the Crown made a joint submission for a suspended sentence with 18 months probation. A discharge of any kind was out of the question in Godfrey’s case because he has a prior conviction.

“This incident does not carry the hallmarks of criminal genius,” said Judge Wright in granting a conditional discharge with 18 months parole to Timmerman, and a suspended sentence with 18 months parole to Godfrey.

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