Most people have heard of grand theft auto before, but what about grand theft lawn?
A Regina man accused of theft and mischief for stealing his neighbour’s lawn has been acquitted.
The dispute started in 2011, shortly after Lam Tu Tram moved into his home on Spence Street in Regina.
There was a 12-foot wide easement between Tram’s home and his neighbour’s, Sharon Deitner. Court documents say the previous owner of Tram’s home had put in the grass on the easement, and when Tram moved in he was under the impression the easement was part of his property, and took care of it as such.
Judge M.J. Hinds noted in the decision that an observer could assume the easement was Tram’s property.
In 2011, the city let Tram know the land was not his, but that it was willing to sell the easement. He said he agreed and put down a deposit.
Court heard the city also let Deitner know it was selling the land, and she said she was interested as well.
Tram got subsequent letters, which were entered into evidence. The first letter said that instead of the full 12 feet, he could now purchase a little more than half of the easement, with another letter saying he could only buy about half. He told court that he paid approximately $5,000 for about six feet of the easement, though Judge Hinds said there was nothing put into evidence to support that.
Deitner testified she paid the city between $5,400 and $6,400 for about six feet of the easement. Again, the judge noted that there were no papers filed with the court to sufficiently support that assertion.
On April 20, 2015, Deitner said she came home to find the lawn on her side of the easement had been removed and put on Tram’s property.
Tram admitted to taking the lawn, but his lawyer argued Tram honestly believed the lawn was his.
Judge Hinds disregarded that argument, but still found Tram not guilty. The decision said the Crown hadn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Deitner owned the land, and that ownership is an essential element of the case.
“It was probably owned by Deitner. However, that is not up to the criminal standard of proof.”