A prolific offender with convictions for upwards of 20 property crimes under his belt was granted his wish, Thursday, when he was sentenced to 165 days behind bars.
Aaron Paul Hillstad, 28, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft under $5,000 and one count of failure to report to his probation officer after a string of crimes he says he committed in order to be back behind bars.
“I don’t want to go to detox and do all their stupid stuff,” Hillstad told the court via videoconference. “I wanted to come to jail … because I’m homeless. I had no money for food. I basically did those crimes to come in here.”
Court heard Hillstad stole $336 worth of items from Kelowna’s Winners store on Oct. 16.
A day later, Hillstad returned to Penticton, where he stole two pairs of diamond hoop earrings from Paris Jewellers in Cherry Lane Shopping Centre that were valued at $900 each.
“I didn’t even get that much money for them,” Hillstad told the judge.
The next day, he entered Penticton’s Staples, cut the security cord attached to a $550 tablet and fled the store.
He was later arrested and the tablet was recovered.
Judge Greg Koturbash shared a five-minute heart-to-heart conversation with Hillstad, who Koturbash said he’s been “dealing with for a long time.”
“I’d hate to see something bad happen to you,” Koturbash added, explaining that by stealing from others, Hillstad’s in turn making it hard for them to afford to live, too.
“I just find it so frustrating that we just don’t have the resources that we need to deal with people who have mental health issues,” said Koturbash. “I wish we had better support for you out there.”
Crown suggested a sentence of 165 days followed by 12 months’ probation.
Defence counsel James Pennington reminded court Hillstad suffers from schizophrenia and goes through good and bad periods.
“The train just goes off the tracks, and clearly that’s what we’re dealing with here,” Pennington said. “He was at a very low point.”
Pennington said Hillstad was in the midst of seeking help when the RCMP found him on Oct. 18.
With enhanced credit for time served, Hillstad had 91 days left on his sentence, which will be followed by 12 months’ probation.