In Taber provincial court on Dec. 20, a 50-year-old local man was sentenced on two counts of theft under $5,000 and a single count of failure to appear in court. Alan Gregory Phillips was sentenced to 60 days of incarceration and one year of probation by Judge G.R. DeBow.
Phillips had pled guilty to the charges earlier in 2016, which were adjourned for sentencing to Dec. 20 to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.
Crown prosecutor June Ling summarized the facts of the case for the gallery. On Sept. 15, 2014, Town of Vauxhall administration had identified a significant financial discrepancy in revenues related to the rental of ice surface time at the local arena, and contacted the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP detachment who initiated an investigation.
During the course of this investigation it was revealed the accused, who had been employed as an arena operations manager in a contract position by the Town of Vauxhall, had been the perpetrator of a theft of rental fees, which initially totalled $14,880. Police learned the accused, who had been a middleman between various user groups and the town, had requested rental payment for ice time be made out by cheque to himself personally, at which point he had not forwarded the funds on to the town but had deposited them into his own account in three installments of $7,440, $3,600, and $3,840. When town administration identified the theft, funds owing to the accused for services rendered were withheld by the town and applied against the outstanding balance, which left a total of $5,051.12 for which funds had been paid by user groups for ice time, but had not been forwarded to the town by Phillips. The accused was charged with various offences.
Ling had argued for a much lengthier period of incarceration for the accused of six months, followed by two years of probation, a recommendation that was declined by Judge DeBow in favour of a much-reduced sentence of 60 days and one year of probation, amount- ing to less than half of what had been requested by the Crown.
In reference to the pre-sentence report, Ling noted to the court the accused had been dishonest with the individuals preparing the report, indicating he had paid restitution to the town for the outstanding funds when this was later determined to be untrue. As a mitigating factor, Phillips’ attorney made representations to the court that at the time the accused had been “drunk and depressed” which had contributed to his decision to commit the crimes. The defence had argued for a conditional sentence order to be served in the community as an alternative to a period of incarceration.
Phillips had been previously convicted of refusing to provide a breath sample in 2011. As a condition of his probation, Phillips will be required to attend for assessment, treatment and counselling for alcohol and substance abuse.
The accused will be allowed to serve his sentence intermittently on weekends at the Lethbridge Correctional Centre. Judge DeBow also ordered the accused pay restitution in the amount of $5,051.12 to the Town of Vauxhall.