Judge hears about Penticton man’s ‘drug-fuelled crime spree’

Aaron Richard Ceretti, 31, pleaded guilty to three counts of break and enter among other charges

Sentencing disposition on what Crown counsel called a ‘drug-fuelled crime spree’ was heard on Monday in Penticton Supreme Court.

Aaron Richard Ceretti, 31, pleaded guilty to three counts of break and enter (that took place in Penticton, Naramata and Kaleden), two firearms related charges and one count of possession of methamphetamine. The incidents took place over the course of eight days in 2016 and a trial had been scheduled to begin today.

Related: Penticton RCMP search leads to discovery of stolen property, drugs and guns

Crown counsel Nashina Devji is asking that the judge consider three to three-and-a-half years for the break and enter charges and suggests 10 to 12 months for the gun offences. Devji said she is asking for 14 days to be served, concurrent to the break and enter charges, on the single count of possession of methamphetamine. Defence counsel is asking for a global sentence of six to eight months on all charges.

Related: Penticton still ranks in the Top 20 dangerous places in Canada

In the statement of facts, Devji said a resident of Newton Drive reported a break and enter on June 13, 2016. Security video footage from the residence showed a vehicle with four people arriving to the house and then loading several stolen items into it. Taken from the house were electronics, lottery tickets and money. RCMP identified three of the individuals, including Mika Grgich, Richard Meier and Aaron Ceretti from the video.

Related: Bail denied for suspect in stolen property crime spree

RCMP arrested Grgich upon arrival at the basement suite residence she was renting on Wiltse Boulevard. While doing so, they noticed some of the stolen items in plain view. Devji said RCMP did not have the ability to lock the door, so they set up a broom handle against it to maintain the scene security. Surveillance from the side of the house was set up, however, it was noted there was another way into the house. At 11:45 p.m., one of the police officers walked to the rear entrance and saw the broom handle had fallen and the door was now locked and barricaded.

RCMP found a secondary way into the residence and found Ceretti hiding under a bed and arrested him. Police found “several condoms full of drugs hidden in his crotch.” It was later determined that the drugs were methamphetamine.

Several search warrants uncovered personal items of Ceretti’s and Grigch’s along with items identified as stolen from the two residences reported on June 13 and another on June 6. Among the items were a passport and several ID’s.

A 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with one live round in the chamber, was found in the storage unit connected to the suite. It was laying on the floor with luggage and other personal belongings of Ceretti.

How much time-served credit Ceretti should receive, for being in jail while waiting for the trial to begin, is still to be argued. Defence counsel West Munson said his client is claiming he spent six months in segregation and that potentially could mean more in extended credit. Devji calculated Ceretti was behind bars for 691 days and, with enhanced credit for time in custody, it works out to 1,037 days that he should be credited with.

Ceretti has a criminal record that has resulted in him spending time in jail for five previous convictions for break and enters, among other charges. Munson argued that Ceretti has not been in any serious trouble since 2009, other than non-compliance charges such as driving while prohibited and being unlawfully at large. He points to a family law issue where the ministry would not allow him to see his two young children for a long period of time that caused him to spiral.

“We ask that the court take into account the time off where he had not been charged with any crime. The emotional blow that he took appears to have lead him back to where we are today and we are hoping the court can take that into consideration,” said Munson.

Ceretti will be sentenced at a later date as Crown and defence came to an agreement that will allow Ceretti to attend a root-canal appointment with the dentist on Nov. 9.

Meier, who is charged with one count of break and enter is to be sentenced on Nov. 26. Grgich pleaded guilty in December 2016 to two counts of break and enter, three counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000 and two firearm offences.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Kristi Patton | Editor

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