Student jailed for crime spree
Young man was arrested by RCMP elite squad

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 30/97) - Chief Judge Robert Halifax didn't say it, but he gave a high school car thief a break by sentencing him to just two months in jail.

Justin Jean Tutcho had pleaded guilty to taking a drive in a car without the owner's consent, committing mischief by breaking into a house and confronting the occupants and breach of probation.

In territorial court last Thursday, Crown prosecutor Brad Allison called for a sentence of up to nine months, while defence lawyer Joan Mercredi sought a penalty of about six months.

Allison said that just after midnight on April 11, RCMP were advised that a car had been stolen from the Laing Building parking lot.

The owner had left it running, with the doors locked. Five minutes later it was gone.

An RCMP emergency response team returning to Yellowknife stopped the car after a lengthy chase.

Tutcho was released from police custody, but that evening a woman found Tutcho in a storage room, apparently bothering her 15-year-old son.

RCMP arrived, arrested him and charged Tutcho with breaking and entering.

Allison said Tutcho's eyes were glazed and he had an odor of mouthwash on his breath.

Mercredi said Tutcho was highly intoxicated.

A Sir John Franklin Grade 10 student who recently turned 18, Tutcho became frustrated with his school work and started drinking again, Mercredi said.

Tutcho apologized to the victims for what he did.

But the judge noted Tutcho already has a long criminal record as a young offender, including convictions for possession of stolen property and theft.

As an adult Tutcho is showing the same behavior as a young offender, but as an adult there are more severe consequences, Halifax warned.

He placed Tutcho on probation for nine months, in addition to two-month sentence.