The Marystown man faced eight charges in total, including a break and enter at St. Patrick’s Parish Church in Burin that occurred in the fall of 2015 and a break-in at Stapleton’s Jewellery and Gifts in the Marystown Mall on Nov. 16, 2015.
In Supreme Court in Grand Bank on July 20, Justice Sandra Chaytor convicted Farrell of the charge of possessing stolen items.
He was sentenced to time served — up to the time of his sentencing he had been in jail for 510 days — and one year of supervised probation. He must also pay victim surcharges.
However, the judge also ruled the Crown did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Farrell was guilty of committing the break and enters.
In her written decision, Chaytor said the key questions in the break and enters was whether or not it was Farrell who had committed the offenses.
In the church break-in, she questioned the reliability of the evidence provided in the case and found that the Crown had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty.
She also found after considering all the Crown’s evidence that connected or could potentially connect Farrell to the break and enter at the jewelry store that it, too, fell short of proving beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty.
“At most the evidence established that the accused had knowledge of and was in the presence of the stolen items after the offence occurred,” Chaytor wrote.
Farrell was charged with two counts of possession of items stolen from the jewellery store.
Chaytor convicted Farrell on one of those charges.
Kenneth Stapleton, owner of Stapleton’s Jewellery and Gifts, testified during the trial his store contained significant inventory at the time of the break and enter due to the upcoming Christmas season. He estimated he lost inventory valued at a retail price of $115,000 as a result of the crime.
Chaytor found the Crown proved its case Farrell had been in possession of a zip lock bag of jewelry that it was claimed he subsequently buried in the Northwest Trail area and convicted him on that count with a caveat.
Whether the amount of the goods in the zip lock baggie exceeded $5,000, as per the charge, had not been proven.
Chaytor said she accepted the RCMP’s inventory of the items found – five bracelets, 21 chains, two earrings, two pendants, and 63 rings, including one custom-made diamond ring, as per Stapleton’s testimony.
While it was clear the value of the jewellery was significant, Chaytor wrote, the Crown did not present evidence to specifically address the value of the items and establish its worth as greater than $5,000.
Meanwhile, there was insufficient evidence to convict him of possession of other items found from the crime.
On Dec. 14, 2015, acting on information they had received, police searched and located a garbage bag with a backpack inside it near the entrance to Dick’s Head on the outskirts of Marystown.
The backpack contained jewellery, including a large number of wristwatches. The backpack was processed by an RCMP forensic identification specialist and samples sent to a lab in British Columbia.
Chaytor wrote she was not satisfied the Crown had established beyond a reasonable doubt that Farrell was in the possession of the jewellery contained in the backpack and dismissed that charge.
Stapleton identified items retrieved by police in the backpack as being from his store, as well as those contained in the zip lock bag found on the Northwest Trail.
Farrell was also found not guilty of a perjury charge that stemmed from comments he made during a bail hearing on Feb. 25, 2016. The evidence was not sufficient to establish the charge, Chaytor wrote in her decision.
Farrell did not testify during the trial.
His cautioned police statement and a transcript from the bail hearing were both entered into evidence by consent, however. He denied he committed the jewellery store break-in and noted the biggest part he played was “looking at it all.” He also told police they would never get all the jewellery back because “it’s gone to the bikers.”
For the count of possessing the stolen jewellery for which he was convicted, Farrell was also found guilty of breaching the terms of his probation. The three other probation violation charges against him were dismissed with the not guilty verdicts.
During the break-in at St. Patrick’s Parish Church in Burin, a large safe containing $4,000 in cash, church records and other items was stolen.