New Brunswick

Man jailed 2 years for possessing stolen N.B. Museum plaques

A man who pleaded guilty to possessing stolen bronze plaques from the New Brunswick Museum was sentenced Thursday to two years minus one day in provincial jail.

Sentencing went ahead without community impact statement from the museum.

The five remaining plaques have been taken in for safekeeping. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)

A man who pleaded guilty to possessing stolen bronze plaques from the New Brunswick Museum was sentenced Thursady to two years minus one day in provincial jail.

Bruce Lee Marion looked around, slouching, and rocked back and forth in his chair after being brought in for the sentencing.

Late September, he pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property, valued at more than $5,000.

The sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 7, but the New Brunswick Museum asked for more time to complete a community impact statement.

When that statement still didn't show up on the second sentencing date on Thursday, and they could not contact the museum to find out why, Judge Richard Andrew Palmer decided to go ahead with the sentencing.

Pattern of behaviour

Wes McIntosh, Marion's defence lawyer, leaves court after the sentencing. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)
Crown prosecutor Rebekah Logan alluded to Marion's pattern of criminal behaviour against property over many years as evidence that he hadn't learned from past behaviours.

The Crown asked for a sentence of two years in a federal prison, since the theft was public and had a deep impact on the community.

Defence lawyer Wes McIntosh did not refute that Marion's criminal history was bad, but said he had had a rough couple of years. Marion had recently moved back to New Brunswick from British Columbia and all he had was his family.

McIntosh hoped that given this family connection, Marion would be able to serve his sentence in a provincial jail, so he could stay nearby.

McIntosh said after Marion serves his sentence he plans on moving on and trying to do good. He is unable to get more than a seasonal labourer job because of his criminal record, even though he is trained in heavy machinery, McIntosh said.

When Marion was given the chance to speak, he apologized for being back in court.

 "I'm sorry to  be back so soon," Marion said. "I did try to honour my release the last time."

He said he thought the plaques were stolen, but just hoped they weren't sentimental. It never crossed his mind that they might have historical value.

'Spidey senses were tingling'

The judge remained unconvinced by Marion's story.

"You've seen enough that you knew it wasn't something run of the mill," Palmer said. "Your spidey senses were tingling."

When handing out the sentence, Palmer said, "I understand your desire to provide for your family, but the manner in which you've done so was unacceptable."

Cut up and sold for scrap

The wall was damaged by what was likely a crowbar used to remove the plaques from the side of the museum. (Brian Chisholm/CBC)
Marion was connected to the theft after he was identified as being in the vehicle that delivered some material to a scrap yard in Lorneville. It is not clear whether he played any part in stealing the plaques.

Robert Knox at Simpson Scrap Metal and Recycling called the police and reported the vehicle's licence plate. His suspicion was aroused after hearing radio news reports about the museum's loss.

Marion was connected to the theft after he was identified as being in the car when the scrap metal was sold.

Two of the four plaques were sold for scrap for roughly $250. The whereabouts of the other two is unknown, but the Saint John Police say they aren't going any further with the investigation and that there will be nobody else charged.

The plaques, produced by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognized Sir Charles Carter Drury, John Hamilton Gray, George McCall Theal and John Clarence Webster.