26-year-old man sentenced for ransacking Parksville church


WATCH: A 26-year-old Parksville man has been sentenced for ransacking a Parksville church. It happened last July, shocking and devastating the congregation at Saint Mary’s the Protectress. But court heard Wednesday that since then, the young man has turned his life around. Kendall Hanson reports.

Twenty-six-year-old Thomas Bruneau arrived at the Nanaimo courthouse Wednesday to be sentenced for breaking into the St. Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“First of all, it was shocking,” said Joy Lockhart, a church member. “It was such a violation.”

Members of the church were devastated last July when they found it broken into and vandalized.

“And any Ukranian orthodox cross was ripped off different items and stolen,” recalled Lockhart. “Every drawer, every cupboard was emptied and thrown on the floor.”

Two-thousand dollars worth of items were stolen and some were irreplaceable.

His lawyer, Michael Ritzker, says Bruneau was high on heroin and crystal meth the night the church was broken into and while Bruneau doesn’t really remember what he did, he said he is sorry.

Bruneau will serve an 18-month conditional sentence in the community and the judge ordered him to perform 20 community service hours.

Bruneau also offered to pay to offset the church’s losses, even though it wasn’t requested by the crown.

“Thomas volunteered,” said Ritzker. “He instructed me that he wanted to pay restitution and the best he could do was $50 dollars per month.”

Lockhart says she’s praying Bruneau will fully recover from his drug addiction. His lawyer says he’s been clean nearly seven months, is working full-time, and has been on a methadone program.

“I do feel that he was remorseful and I’m glad that I was there,” said Lockhart. “I know that I’m going to have to sell this to our congregation because a lot of people are still very angry.”

The judge also ordered Bruneau to stay away from the church and write an apology letter to the congregation.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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