Manitoba

Former firefighter headed to jail for stealing from dead woman's apartment

A former Winnipeg firefighter convicted of stealing cash and jewelry from the apartment of an elderly woman who had died has been sentenced to six months in jail. Darren Fedyck, 48, was found guilty of one count of theft under $5,000 following a trial earlier this year.

Firefighter stole between $800 and $1,000 and a necklace during a 2015 call

Former Winnipeg firefighter Darren Fedyck has been sentenced to six months in jail for stealing cash and a necklace from an apartment during a call in 2015. (Bert Savard/CBC)

A former Winnipeg firefighter convicted of stealing cash and jewelry from the apartment of an elderly woman who had died has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Darren Fedyck, 48, was found guilty of one count of theft under $5,000 following a trial earlier this year.

Provincial court Judge Kael McKenzie rejected a defence request that Fedyck be allowed to serve a conditional sentence in the community, ruling the gravity of the offence required a stronger message of deterrence and denunciation.

"He did the very thing we expect firefighters not to do when they are in someone's home — [they're expected] to resist the temptation to steal from people in need of their assistance," McKenzie said.

"Society trusts you to care for us when we are most vulnerable and if you steal from someone, the consequences have to reflect the very serious breach of society's trust." 

Court heard Fedyck was one of several firefighters dispatched to a Henderson Highway apartment building on Oct. 2, 2015 after receiving a report of a strong smell coming from one of the suites.

Upon entering the suite, the firefighters found the elderly female tenant had died.

Co-workers noticed 'odd behaviour'

Sometime later, the firefighters had exited the suite when one of Fedyck's co-workers realized he had forgotten to retrieve the dead woman's medical card. When the co-worker balked at returning to the suite because of the smell, Fedyck volunteered to retrieve the card.

Inside the apartment, Fedyck opened the windows and sprayed air freshener about the room, something Fedyck's co-workers considered "odd behaviour," court heard.

After waiting for Fedyck to come out of the suite, two co-workers went inside and found him in a bedroom, holding the woman's wallet in one hand and her medical card in the other.

"Found it," Fedyck said before returning his fire gloves to his pockets, another move co-workers found unusual, since there was no reason for him to have them out in the first place, McKenzie said. 

Outside, Fedyck volunteered to return all of the crew's equipment to the fire truck, another move that raised suspicions. Suspecting that Fedyck had taken something from the apartment, the other firefighters secretly checked the pockets of his jacket hanging in the fire truck and found between $800 and $1,000 in cash, and two necklaces.

Confronted by staff, Fedyck claimed the cash was earmarked for car repairs and the necklace belonged to him, but he planned to sell it.

"The plan was to let Mr. Fedyck [return] the money and jewelry if he admitted taking it," McKenzie said. "Mr. Fedyck denied taking anything from the apartment."

One of Fedyck's co-workers reported the incident to police, who ultimately arrested him.