Justice: Theft In the slammer for stealing tent

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 04/96) - A Yellowknife electrician has lost his $70,000-a-year job and will spend the next two months in jail for "borrowing" a tent from his employer.

Mel Pretty, a 49-year-old former NWT Power Corporation employee, pleaded guilty to theft in territorial court Tuesday.

Court heard that Pretty, known as the "best in his field," shipped an $800 corporation-owned tent from the Jackfish Power Plant to his girlfriend in Holman last February.

Pretty's intentions were for his girlfriend to try out the tent, said lawyer Robert Gorin.

The pair were contemplating setting up an outfitting operation in the Victoria Island community and wanted to evaluate some equipment.

Corporation officials became aware of the missing tent, police were brought in to investigate and Pretty was charged with the crime.

The tent was returned, but the nine-year employee was suspended with pay and recently fired, court heard.

"He tells me at this point he thinks he's finished" (as an electrician), said Gorin.

Crown lawyer Sandra Aitken asked Judge Thomas Davis to sentence Pretty to three months in jail.

His previous criminal record, which includes a 1987 theft conviction, and the need to deter others from carrying out similar crimes warranted the 90-day sentence, said Aitken.

Gorin asked Davis for a one-month sentence, noting his client had returned the tent and pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

In handing down the 60-day sentence, Davis said those who breach the trust of an employer and are convicted of a criminal offence must face "a jail term or a penalty being imposed of some serious consequences".