Drug addict sheds tears for his despicable crime against elderly woman

It was a vicious home-invasion style robbery that left an elderly West Kelowna woman injured and highly traumatized.

On Thursday, a chronic drug addict was in a court room for a sentencing hearing after earlier pleading guilty to break-and-enter with intent to commit an indictable offense while wearing a mask.

In the middle of the night on October 25 2015, Benjamin Duane Barnhart pried open the kitchen window of an 85-year-old woman.

There was a struggle in her bedroom with Barnhart trying to gag his victim with a scarf.

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He demanded money, jewellery and prescription medications.

When Barnhart was distracted, the woman fled to a neighbour’s home while Barnhart fled with about $200 and the victim’s bank cards.

A few hours later, the cards were used for purchases at several stores and to withdraw $800 from a bank machine.

Security camera pictures helped police track down Barnhart, who was well known to them, at his nearby residence.

Saying the victim’s safety was violently violated in the security of her own home and she was profoundly impacted, the prosecutor is asking for a prison sentence of six to seven years.

Barnhart’s legal aid lawyer is seeking a term of three and a half years, saying Barnhart’s long-time drug addiction fueled his crimes while claiming he’s a strong prospect for rehabilitation.

At times crying in court, the 25-year-old apologized to the victim and her family, saying: “Everyday I think about it and I truly don’t have the words to describe how sorry I am. I never planned to do such a thing and I’m disgusted. Just want to say sorry.”

The judge is expected to hand down his sentencing decision in early December.

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