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Canadian sentenced in absentia to ten weeks’ jail time

Brent Habetler was jailed in his absence to ten weeks in prison for performing an indecent act (File photograph)

A Canadian man convicted of performing an indecent act in front of a woman was sentenced yesterday in his absence to ten weeks imprisonment.

Brent Habetler, originally from Saskatchewan, was not present at his sentencing hearing in Magistrates’ Court because he was allowed to return home after his conviction, but did not come back to Bermuda.

The 46-year-old was also fined $500 for an assault that happened during the same incident, which took place at the Willowbank Resort in Sandys last November.

Giving his judgment, magistrate Craig Attridge told the court that the only reason he allowed Habetler to return home was because prosecutors initially said that they hoped to seek a fine as punishment before later changing their stance.

He added that had the Crown submitted from the start that a custodial sentence was appropriate, Habetler would still be on the island.

Mr Attridge also withdrew $1,500 from Habetler’s bail bond for failing to appear in court.

The court heard on Tuesday that Habetler had left $2,000 with his lawyer, Victoria Greening, to cover any fines imposed by the court after his departure.

Cindy Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that Habetler’s bail had always allowed him to travel, and that he failed to return when he was required to do so.

She added that while a non-custodial sentence was considered appropriate at first, the necessity of this was reconsidered after he failed to reappear after his conviction.

Ms Clarke said: “Upon being made aware that Habetler had not returned to answer his bail, the position was reconsidered by me personally, and I decided that it was appropriate to seek a custodial sentence.”

She added: “The sentence imposed is not one that qualifies for extradition. However, a warrant of arrest was issued for Habetler, and he can be arrested and made to serve his sentence should he return.”

Habetler stood trial for the offences in February after denying the incident last year.

A woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that she was at the resort’s pool with her husband, daughter and granddaughter on November 26.

She said that she saw Habetler “moving his hands rapidly” inside his pants while looking at her daughter and granddaughter. He claimed that he “had an itch” when confronted.

The woman’s husband, who also cannot be named, testified that Habetler bumped him in the chest after his wife went to get help.

Habetler then put his hands on the man’s shoulders before another person broke them up. Habetler was arrested later that day.

He was supposed to be sentenced on Tuesday, but did not appear.

Ms Greening told the court that her client struggled to find flights to return to Bermuda in time.

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