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Lambton County man goes on crime spree after losing family, career to drug addiction

Theft has been a common theme in Frederick Palmer’s life for the past year.

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Theft has been a common theme in Frederick Palmer’s life for the past year.

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The Lambton County man stole a trail camera from a local farmer and was then arrested multiple times while in possession of stolen vehicles and keys. His recent criminal activities can be traced back to what was taken away from his personal life by a drug addiction.

“He’s robbed himself of his family, his home, his sons, his marriage, his career through addiction, I think that’s a better way to put it,” defense attorney Terry Brandon said. “All of that has been lost.”

A courtroom in Sarnia heard that Palmer, a former Michigan resident, had family in the US and had a good job with a fire department there. The 42-year-old man, who now lives in Lambton Shores, was charged 27 times by police in Sarnia, Lambton County and the Strathroy area last year, mostly with driving-related offences.

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“Everything in his world fell apart when his marriage fell apart,” Brandon said.

Palmer pleaded guilty to multiple possession of stolen property valued more than $5,000 and possession of stolen property valued less than $5,000, theft, and late-night loitering or roaming at Sarnia Prison. However, as a first-time offender in Canada with a previously clean criminal record, both attorneys suggested a total of two months in prison.

Brandon acknowledged the penalty could have been greater.

“This is in no way lost on the defense, Your Honor,” she told Judge John Lynch.

The judge agreed to give the 60-day sentence, but told Palmer it was on the low end of the reasonable range.

“Actually, I wouldn’t say the easy end. I’d say way down in the reasonable range,” he continued. “I think Ms. Brandon has done a good job for you. I wouldn’t hesitate at all sir if the joint filing was something in the six to nine month range given what’s going on here.”

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One of the incidents occurred about two months ago at a rural property on the Zion Line in Warwick Township, where a farmer saw someone walking on his property via security camera. When he showed up to investigate, Palmer fled to a nearby field, leaving a pickup truck behind.

Lambton OPP arrived and, finding a bulletproof vest in the pickup truck, brought in their canine unit. The dog spotted Palmer hiding in a shed behind a nearby country house. When he was arrested, police found 10 sets of car keys in his jacket pocket.

Palmer stole the wildlife camera from a dairy farmer in Warwick Township on February 14 – he was caught on camera – and was re-arrested by the dog unit on December 15 with a further 10 sets of keys. He was last arrested on New Year’s Day at a house in Sarnia, where police found a stolen black Ford pickup truck in the driveway.

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Palmer, one of several people at the house, denied being involved.

“Palmer began shaking uncontrollably, seemed very nervous and out of shape,” Assistant District Attorney Aniko Coughlan said while reading an agreed statement of fact.

He asked police to search him, and officers found a black Ford key fob in his pocket. The pickup started in the driveway and he was arrested.

Palmer, who served just three weeks after receiving the preliminary sentence, apologized to the court and the local community for the impact of his criminal behavior.

“I just want to get this over with, get back to work and actually start over,” he said. “I have no plans to press charges again, I promise.”

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