Efforts by a prolific property theft offender in Penticton to change his life around made a difference when it came to sentencing for his most recent crimes.
Matthew Corey Toker, 46, appeared in Penticton’s courthouse on Jan. 6 to plead guilty to multiple offences over several years.
Since January 2022 he has been out on bail, electronically monitored, and under strict house arrest at the Bridge, a supported recovery and transition housing program in Penticton. While at the Bridge, he has made strides to improve himself, including getting clean. The court had previously been told that Toker had started using drugs since the time he was around 17-years-old.
“It’s clear from [the pre-sentence] report and is also clear from Mr. Toker’s criminal record and the courts dealings with him over the last few years that he has been dealing with a very significant substance abuse issue,” said the Crown prosecutor. “What is notable here is that Mr. Toker has made significant strides with regards to that since August of 2021.”
While in custody he had started using methadone, and after being released on bail he switched to a new opioid replacement drug that has so far been more effective. In response to a question from the judge, Toker told the court that this was the first time in his life that he was undergoing opioid replacement treatment.
As a result of the progress Toker has made, and noting that what was being proposed was “essentially a calculated risk”, Crown proposed that after taking into account the 154 days he had already served that he would spend the next 249 days under a conditional sentence order, followed by 18 months of probation.
Defence agreed with the conditional order, while arguing over some of the terms of the restrictions he would be on.
Despite the efforts that Toker has made since being released, the judge expressed the need for a denunciatory aspect to Toker’s sentence in addition to rehabilitation based in part on his lengthy list of prior convictions dating back to 1995.
In the end, the judge agreed with Crown’s proposal, with a few minor modifications to the terms such as allowing Toker to spend time at his parents’ house while under their supervision. Other suggestions from defence, such as the mandatory requirement for counselling or similar treatment, were not removed.
“It is worth noting that the Crown has taken an appropriate position by factoring in the significant rehabilitative steps Mr. Toker has taken,” the judge said. “Under normal circumstances, a ninth-month conditional sentence order for a break-and-enter, with your record, would not be something that is attainable.”
While serving the conditional sentence, he will remain under strict house arrest and continue to be electronically monitored.
“I appreciate that you may be disappointed in your restrictions,” the judge said to Toker. “I wish to commend you on the work you’ve done so far. With the people you have behind you, you’ve got a long way to go, but you’ve done a great deal of work so far. Good luck to you.”
On June 14, 2021, RCMP were called to a burning smell coming from a bike storage locker at a Front Street apartment complex, the smell coming from several locks that had been cut. Toker pleaded guilty to being in possession to a set of key rings taken from the property.
The next day, Revenue Canada called RCMP to remove a man sleeping at their door. Police identify the man as Toker, wearing the same clothes as seen in video footage from the stolen bikes the night before. He was found with meth, a pocket knife, an angle grinder and a garage opener from a nearby apartment building, which had a break-in earlier that morning.
He was then released on a curfew, which Toker pleaded guilty to breaking on August 5.
On August 6, 2021, shortly after 6 a.m. a business owner reported damage to a store on Main Street and damage to a vehicle. Toker was seen on video running down the alley and RCMP later found him in clothing that matched the footage.
The final guilty plea was to breaking his curfew again on Aug. 18, as well as being caught with illicit drugs.
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