Calgary

Dog-walking tree thief pleads guilty to 'extremely stupid' crime

Calgary's most notorious tree thief pleaded guilty on Wednesday after police discovered two stolen Japanese maples in his bedroom. Ryan Duguay and his reluctant accomplice, Lucy the Jack Russell terrier, were caught on CCTV outside the Royal Brasserie last week taking two trees from planters outside the restaurant.

Japanese Maple trees recovered after video went viral on social media

A man with his dog was caught on camera stealing two valuable trees on 17 Avenue early Monday. 0:36

Calgary's most notorious tree thief pleaded guilty on Wednesday, admitting to stealing two Japanese maples worth $1,000.

Ryan Duguay and his reluctant accomplice, Lucy the Jack Russell terrier, were caught on CCTV outside the Royal Brasserie last week, taking the two trees from planters outside the restaurant.

Provincial Court Judge Harry Van Harten threw Duguay a bone and released the 31-year-old, agreeing with defence counsel that time served was a sufficient sentence.

Duguay's crime was a "really profoundly juvenile theft," said prosecutor Meagan Blake.

The video of the Aug. 8 theft was posted to social media last week to Inspector Gadget music and quickly went viral, prompting an anonymous tip that led officers to a home in Calgary's Lower Mount Royal neighbourhood on Thursday.

Police allege there was a "heavy odour of pot" coming from the home and that they found 11 grams of marijuana inside, as well as two Japanese Maple trees.

"It was a huge mistake," said defence lawyer Rebecca Snukal. "It was extremely stupid — he's otherwise been making efforts to be a law-abiding citizen."

Devin Morrison, director of operations with the Teatro Restaurant Group (right) and corporate executive chef Dominique Moussu (left) receive the stolen trees from Calgary police officers. (Royale Brasserie)

Despite the rather minor nature of the offence, the video — which features Lucy trying to pull Duguay away from the crime scene — was picked up by local news outlets.

"For some strange reason this case has attracted ... three days of media attention," said Snukal.

Having noticed reporters in the gallery, the judge responded to her comment.

"My guess is he's going to be in the media four days instead of three," replied Van Harten.

Dugay also faces drug-related charges in Winnipeg which Snukal noted he would be addressing immediately upon his release after which, perhaps he'll be turning over a new leaf.

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