Niles man sentenced for ‘accidental’ break-in
By DEBRA HAIGHT
Special to Leader Publications
A Niles man who entered the wrong home by mistake when he was drunk will be spending several months in jail.
Neil Courtney Bennett, 44, of North 11th Street in Niles, pleaded guilty to illegal entry and resisting and obstructing police and was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court to 300 days in jail on the resisting and obstructing charge and 90 days in jail for illegal entry. He must pay $248 in fines and costs.
The two jail terms are concurrent with each other but consecutive to any punishment he gets for violating his parole from an earlier delivery of cocaine sentence.
The incident occurred Jan. 30, when he entered a home in the 2000 block of Miller Drive in Oak Manor. According to police, he crawled through a living room window and went into the kitchen to make a sandwich. He told police that he was drunk and hungry and went into the wrong house.
The resisting and obstructing charge resulted from fleeing from the police.
“He was on parole already at the time of this incident when he went into the house intoxicated,” Assistant Prosecutor Cortney O’Malley said. “He then ran over a fence to get away from police. This is not the worst set of offenses but I think that jail is appropriate.”
“He lives in the same neighborhood and the houses do look alike,” defense attorney Albert Mais said. “He didn’t steal anything. He was trying to make some food.”
Bennett apologized to everyone involved.
“I’m sorry for any inconvenience I caused,” he said. “I knew I shouldn’t be mixing alcohol with medications.”
Berrien County Trial Judge Angela Pasula noted that Bennett wouldn’t be in trouble this time if he hadn’t been drinking.
“You shouldn’t have alcohol, you’re on parole,” she said. “If you hadn’t been drinking, you wouldn’t be here today.”
She noted that Bennett has been to jail 21 times and to prison two times. She noted that he has 30 documented parole violations.
In another sentencing, a Niles man is going to prison after he removed his electronic monitoring device.
Jeremy Keith Phillips, 29, of Cass Street in Niles, pleaded guilty to tampering with an electronic device and was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison. The sentence will be consecutive to any sentence he gets for his parole violation.
The incident occurred Oct. 14 at a home on Market Street. He admitted to police that he removed an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Phillips was on parole until this July for 2007 prison sentences for breaking and entering a building with intent to commit larceny and second degree home invasion.
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