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CAS Trains Career Criminal

June 29, 2008 permalink

When Mervyn Breaton was a child he was a ward of the children's aid society. In 1936 he had his first criminal conviction, inaugurating a life of crime. Now at the age of 87 he has still not learned to stay out of trouble with the law.



Career crook, 87, vows to go straight

Mervyn Breaton has spent more of his life in jail than on the outside

This time, octogenarian Mervyn Breaton says, he really, really means it.

"I'm getting too old for this stuff," the 87-year old career criminal said yesterday from the prisoner's box in a London court after pleading guilty to drug charges and breaching house arrest.

"I've heard that before," said Justice Ross Webster, who sentenced Breaton in December on similar charges and freed him yesterday after fining him for his latest offences.

After 24 days at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre -- it was "hard on my arthritic condition" -- Breaton said he's putting a life of crime behind him.

"I think I'm just worn out," he said.

That's not a surprise. The tall, thin Breaton has spent more of his life inside a jail than outside -- including 19 years at the infamous Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.

His first criminal conviction was in 1936. His record includes car thefts, weapons and drug convictions, vehicular manslaughter and escaping custody -- including a daring over-the-wall escape from Collins Bay penitentiary in Kingston.

"The next day I was in Toronto robbing banks," he said.

Robbing banks across the continent was his forte -- and landed him in Alcatraz, where he served 19 years of a 45-year sentence and looked after Robert Stroud, the so-called Birdman of Alcatraz.

His latest brushes with the law have been for selling his own pain medication from his Coldstream Road home.

The OPP searched the house in May and found Breaton had nearly 200 OxyContin tablets of various strength and another 200 Percocets.

There were debt lists in the freezer and Breaton's wallet. He had $2,160 in his pants pocket.

Police also found a small amount of marijuana.

All was found while Breaton was supposed to be keeping his nose clean and abiding by terms of an 18-month conditional sentence for drug trafficking dealt him by Webster.

Breaton spent his 24 days, including his 87th birthday, in jail playing bridge and reading.

Webster agreed the drug matter could be handled with a hefty fine -- $5,000. Breaton was given time served for breaching his house arrest and the conditional sentence was reinstated.

Once released, Breaton sat with his younger, law-abiding brother -- who's 85 -- and waited to sign his paperwork.

Outside the courtroom, Breaton said with a recalcitrant smile and twinkling blue eyes he was dealing his own pills because "I like eating steak, so I sold them."

From his childhood, Breaton said he's only known jails and crime. As a child in the Chatham area, he was placed with child services after his parents were sent to jail.

"They threw me into Children's Aid and from then on it was one jail to another," he said.

If there were any attempts to straighten out his life, Breaton doesn't remember.

"I don't think so. I didn't try too hard if I did," he said.

His plan yesterday was to go home "and make love to my pets" -- a German Shepherd called J.C. (short for Jesus Christ) and Bear, a white lab.

"I think Father Time's caught up with me. Hopefully it's the last trip out there," he said of the local jail.

Source: London (Ontario) Free Press