A Salmon Arm man with mental health issues who broke into a house after reportedly being dropped off at a local store by police, rather than admitted to hospital, has been given a second chance.
Aaron Lamb, 24, was given a conditional discharge and a 12-month probation term in Kamloops provincial court last week after pleading guilty in connection with a break-in at an elderly Sorrento woman’s home.
Lamb pleaded to the lesser charge of being unlawfully in a dwelling — down from the charge of break and enter. He had also been charged with mischief, uttering threats and resisting arrest, but those were stayed following the guilty plea.
Court heard that back on May 13, 2021, at about 4:30 a.m., the 83-year-old homeowner, who lives alone, called 911 after awakening to the sound of glass breaking.
She spotted someone exiting her garage and heading toward Highway 1 with property from her home after getting out of bed to investigate the commotion.
Police attended the area and found Lamb, who ignored their commands to stop, instead fleeing into a nearby motorhome in an attempt to drive it, Crown prosecutor Alex Janse told the court. He also threw a box at police and was arrested after a short foot pursuit, she said.
Lamb has a history of mental illness but had been managing his condition well up until a few years ago, Janse said. On the evening in question, Lamb’s mother called police for assistance, as Lamb, who lives with his parents in Salmon Arm, was causing trouble in the home. Janse said police were to take Lamb to hospital under the Mental Health Act.
“Unfortunately, what the police did instead — and I haven’t confirmed this — is they took him to Sorrento at his request and then essentially dumped him at [a local store] in the middle of the night,” Janse said.
She said Lamb, in the middle of a mental health crisis and with no mode of transportation, made the decision to enter the 83-year-old woman’s home.
Janse said the homeowner has conveyed to her that, more than anything, she just wants Lamb to receive the help he needs.
In a joint submission with defense counsel, Lamb, a college student who has no criminal record, will be on conditions that he attend mental health and substance abuse treatment, refrain from using drugs and alcohol and have no contact with the elderly homeowner or the owner of the motorhome he broke into.
Janse added she hopes the conditions will open up opportunities to get Lamb the assistance he needs through the probation service, noting his mother advised she’s struggled to get him help within the community.
Lamb apologized for his actions in court. “I realize what I’ve done has impacted people beyond me,” Lamb said via video conference, adding he’s grateful for the plea offer he received.
Editor's note: This story has been updated from a version that previously misidentified the location Lamb was dropped off in Sorrento.