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Teen girls home alone when man smashed into Burnaby home with propane tank

Yuri Zavorotny, 51, has been sentenced to one extra day in jail and 18 months' probation for August 2020 break-in
Smashed Door
A 51-year-old man used a propane tank to smash his way into a Burnaby home where two teen girls were home alone in August 2020.

A 51-year-old man put two teenage girls through a harrowing ordeal during a meth-fuelled break-in at a Burnaby home in August 2020.

On the afternoon of Aug. 5, 2020, the two sisters were home alone at their East Burnaby house when the man used a propane tank to smash a patio door, according to agreed facts presented in Vancouver provincial court Wednesday.

The terrified girls called their mother, Anella Di Spirito, saying they could hear someone inside the house downstairs, the court heard.

Di Spirito was on her way home and just a couple of minutes away.

When she pulled into the back of the residence, she spotted a man breaking into one of the family’s vehicles in the driveway.

Di Spirito told the man to leave and then called 911, the court heard.

Police got that call at about 3:45 p.m., and the suspect was arrested a few blocks away.

Yuri Zavorotny was charged the following day with one count of breaking into a house with intent to commit an offence, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty Wednesday and was sentenced to one extra day in jail – after being credited for 65 days already served in pretrial custody – and 18 months’ probation.

Defence lawyer Sonja Luck said the offence had occurred at the height of the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions and Zavorotny had been using meth at the time.

“He felt, in an apocalyptic moment, he thought he could enter the house,” Luck told the court.

In a joint submission, Crown prosecutor Tara Laker noted Zavorotny has since “gained a handle” on his drug use.

She also noted Zavorotny had taken responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty; he had no prior criminal record; and he had done well on bail – after one initial misstep that landed him back in custody.

Provincial court Judge Harbans Dhillon accepted the joint submission but told Zavorotny the break-in was a “very serious offence.”

“These young women were hugely alarmed,” she said of the two sisters who were home alone when he smashed the patio door.

“If we don’t hold people accountable for causing this kind of fear and alarm and breach in our community, what is left for the citizens of our community?” Dhillon asked.

During his probation, Zavorotny is banned from going within one block of the 11th Avenue house he broke into and from contacting the family members living there.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor