Okanagan Correctional Centre entrance

Getting locked up at the Okanagan Correctional Centre saved his life, says a man once described by the Penticton RCMP as “a very brazen criminal” with a “horrendous record.”

Ian MacDonald, 40, pleaded guilty Monday in B.C. Supreme Court to break and enter, theft under $5,000 and breach of probation, and was handed a two-year jail term.

With enhanced credit for time served, MacDonald has 326 days remaining on his sentence, which will be followed by two years’ probation.

The sentence was a joint submission by Crown and defence. It came on what was to have been the first day of MacDonald’s trial.

Court heard MacDonald on Aug. 8, 2018, broke into a home on Blairmore Crescent in Penticton and left with a computer, TV and Toyota Corolla car.

The break-in was discovered a few hours later by friends of the homeowner who were looking after the place while the owner was away.

Police were able to match fingerprints at the scene to MacDonald’s, and he was arrested later that day at a social housing complex. All of the stolen items were recovered.

Defence counsel Michael Patterson acknowledged his client’s “unbroken, unenviable” criminal record the past few years, but said MacDonald was battling a drug addiction and dealing with personal trauma.

MacDonald told the court he began working in the OCC metal shop shortly after he arrived and is now on his way to becoming a ticketed welder.

He also said his latest attempt at recovery from drug addiction is being helped by his newfound love of metal work.

“I realized that I’ve got to like the guy in the mirror. I have to appreciate the stuff I’ve done, so I’ve grown from that,” said MacDonald, “and, to be honest, OCC’s offered me a lot. I never (saw) a jail in my whole life, ever, that helps that.”

Shortly after his arrest, Penticton RCMP issued a press release noting MacDonald had 100 prior criminal convictions at that time.

"It’s not often you come across a bad guy with that horrendous a record,” Cpl. Scott VanEvery said in the release.

“He is a very brazen criminal, so obviously it’s a relief getting this guy off the streets.”