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DNA evidence not enough to convict Okanagan man charged with 5 break-ins

Kevin LeClerc was found guilty of only 1 of the 5 break-ins
B.C. Supreme Court chambers at the Penticton Law Courts on Main Street. (Western News file photo)

Despite having DNA evidence linking him to multiple break-and-enters, an Okanagan man will only be sentenced for one of them.

The Supreme Court Justice presiding over Kevin Maurice Joseph LeClerc’s case ruled there was not enough evidence to support the charges that LeClerc had entered the four residences and committed theft.

Along with a commercial break-in at Intersection Winery in 2014 in Oliver, LeClerc had been charged with breaking in and committing theft at a home on Cottonwood Drive in Osoyoos, a home on 37th Street in Osoyoos, a home in Naramata on Robinson Point and finally a home at Apex Mountain in 2017.

The only charge that LeClerc was found guilty of was the lesser charge of breaking into Intersection Winery with the intention of committing theft, which Justice Jasmin Ahmad said she could not see any other reason for doing so other than to commit an indictable offence.

“To establish guilt, Crown must prove each of the primary elements beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Justice Ahmad. “That is A, that Mr. LeClerc broke into the place; B, that Mr. LeClerc entered the place; and C, that Mr. LeClerc committed the indictable offence of theft when he broke into the places.

“It is not enough that Crown has proven that Mr. LeClerc did break-and-enter into each of the premises…it must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the offence of theft.”

With the residences being left empty by their owners for up to several weeks, leaving a broad period over which multiple people could have possibly been inside them, the Justice noted that evidence recovered from scenes included additional DNA that did not match LeClerc’s. Combined with evidence of the use of bedrooms, food that was eaten and grocery bags at one location, she said that there exists the possibility that LeClerc was using the homes as shelter while the owners were away.

READ MORE: DNA evidence led to ID of South Okanagan break-in suspect: Crown

The cases had been sitting open for years until 2018 when LeClerc was required to provide DNA samples as part of another case against him.

After Leclerc provided the DNA to police in 2018, the DNA pinged through the RCMP’s database and matched to the five previously unidentified samples.

According to the Crown, the report from experts stated that the estimated probability that an unrelated individual with the exact same DNA profile would be one in 7.6 quintillions.

The lack of any stolen items recovered from LeClerc was another factor in her decision.

As a result, there was enough doubt in Justice Ahmad’s opinion that she could not support the charges that the Crown had brought forward.

Sentencing will come at a later date in 2023 after a pre-sentencing report is completed.

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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