A 39-year-old man was sentenced to an additional 11 and a half months plus time served for a series of identity theft crimes committed across Metro Vancouver, including Coquitlam and Anmore, in a case that tested the court’s interpretation of Canada’s historical mistreatment of Indigenous peoples on an individual offender.
In the Oct. 31 ruling released this week, Lewis Andrew Dahlberg pleaded guilty on seven property and fraud offences. Those included defrauding the Coquitlam Centre electronics store NCIX of two laptops worth a total of $4,000 in June 2017 and breaking into a house in Anmore in May of that same year to steal cash and a credit card later used to rack up over $10,000 in fraudulent transactions.
That’s when the defendant was put under surveillance by the RCMP Property Crimes Target Team.
The repeat offender has a criminal record that goes back to 1996, with several charges in Alberta and B.C., according to the ruling. Dahlberg struggled with alcohol addiction over the years, spending time in jail and in recovery houses, the court documents said. In May of this year he somehow managed to cut off his Electronic Monitoring Program anklet and fled a recovery house. He remained at large until June 2019, when police arrested him in Burnaby.
In the October ruling, the judge considered Dahlberg’s Indigenous heritage — the defendant identifies as Métis on his mother’s side. The judge accepted that the historical mistreatment of Métis in Canadian society — mistreatment that included forced attendance at Indian residential schools — resulted in a trauma that would likely have left a mark on the defendant’s family line.
Growing up, Dahlberg’s parents argued a lot, something that led him to leave home from time to time, eventually cycling through foster homes, notes the ruling. Dahlberg said he was emotionally and physically abused in these homes, and that he was sexually abused by female caregivers. Experimentation with alcohol and cocaine eventually led to an addiction to crystal methamphetamine, according to court documents.
Despite his past struggles, Dahlberg’s lawyer told the court he had been recovering well until last spring, when he found out his younger brother had passed away. That caused him to relapse and flee the recovery house.
In his sentencing, the judge wrote Dahlberg “left behind in his wake a number of individual as well as institutional victims,” adding, “There was a most certainly a persistent effort over time to obtain funds by illicit means.”
But the judge added Dahlberg was also said to lead a “pro-social” life, had completed computer training, maintains a long-term relationship that has produced two children, and has a job waiting for him at his father’s glass business when he’s released on probation in 11 and a half months.