Guilty plea in Glenwood matter; Trial for co-accused recommences in October

Glenwood cemeterian and grounds manager Helma Oonk stands over a pair of toppled markers. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette File Photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

 

A Prince Edward County man has pleaded guilty of his role in a vandalism spree that caused upwards of  $200,000 damage at Glenwood Cemetery last June.

The young man, a local resident who was 17 at the time time of the incident but has since turned 18, stood before Justice Stephen Hunter in Picton’s Provincial Courthouse on King St. Wednesday and entered a plea of guilty.

Hunter levied 80 hours of community service, a year of probation, counselling and a number of other orders typically associated with the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). 

Glenwood Cemetery Board chair Sandy Latchford said the organization were kept appraised of the situation by Crown Attorney Mike Lunski and knew one of the two alleged perpetrators were considering a guilty plea in advance of Wednesday’s court appearance.

Lunksi presented evidence to the court on Wednesday prior to Hunter providing his sentence and Latchford was thankful for the totality and care the Crown showed.

“The Crown Attorney did an outstanding job going through the evidence including pictures of all the grave stones and Justice Hunter made comments to the effect that he understood the impact this vandalism has had, how upsetting this was to the community, the Glenwood board and our staff,” Latchford said. “He said there was no questioning the impact this has had to Glenwood and the Prince Edward County community.”

Latchford said the organization will be in contact with the probation officer moving forward and, while the guilty party didn’t speak to the act in court Wednesday, the chair said the young man’s demeanour was appropriate for someone who knows they’ve done wrong and are willing to accept his punishment.

The other accused party in the matter, a male from Kingston who was 15 at the time of the spree and has subsequently turned 16, chose to proceed to trial and a portion of that trial was held Wednesday afternoon with his former co accused providing in-chief testimony for the Crown.

In terms of sentencing, Latchford said the Board discussed a number scenarios with Lunski but decided that if the guilty party could not be directly supervised, the community service portion of the sentence would not be served at Glenwood.

“We decided that unless someone is going to be supervising, we did not want these individuals on site at this time,” Latchford said. “We did agree to meet with (the guilty party) and we would like to feel he has a good understanding of what he did and the impact it had.”

The man will not allowed on the Glenwood grounds at anytime without the Board’s permission but Latchford said the Board could be willing to waive that stipulation if he was attending a funeral.

At this stage, Latchford said Glenwood members are trying be supportive from an educational point of view to help this person understand why people are so emotional and upset over this matter.

As news of the plea made the rounds on social media, members of the public questioned the sentence-some to the point of hysterics-but Latchford said the cemetery board is satisfied with the proceedings thus far.

“He’s admitted his guilt, he’s working with the Crown and at this point, if there’s any hope of any good coming from this or him, it has to be through education,” Latchford said. “It does no good for anyone to grind him into the ground (after he’s pled guilty).”

The YCJA prevents media from identifying the individuals.

The trail involving the younger male, a Kingston resident, recommences in October.