11/05/2012 08:44 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Family says public attempts to shame son were unfair

The parents of a man convicted of breaking into several homes in Boutilier's Point, N.S. say the community's attempts to publicly shame Kevin Whiting were misguided.

The story made headlines last month, when a group of citizens, led by Vern Sklafasky, announced they would attend Kevin Whiting's court appearances. On one occasion, more than a dozen neighbours showed up in court.

Whiting has since pleaded guilty to breaking into several homes in the area. Community members said they were terrorized by the crimes.

But Whiting's parents said the community's reaction was unfair.

"Kevin had a very serious habit, one we've been fighting for over five years," said Helena Marriott, Whiting's stepmother. "It didn't just happen. He wasn't born a drug addict and he wasn't born a thief."

Marriott said the tragedy of drug addiction was lost in the shaming story. She called on the group to stop its vigilante tactics, and instead appeal to the provincial government to address the larger problem.

"We understand their anger, and their resentment, and their fear," said Marriott.

Marriott said they've tried unsuccessfully to get power of attorney. They also tried to force treatment on the 34-year-old. But over the years, nothing has worked.

"You cannot shame and you cannot put fear in somebody that's addicted to drugs," said Marriott.

Paul Whiting, Kevin's dad, said the public shaming hurt the family rather than having the intended affect on his son.

"We didn't have to go through what we went through if certain people would've just left it alone to the courts," he said.

Kevin Whiting will be sentenced in December. His family hopes he'll receive the treatment he needs while he serves time in prison.

The family has also written an open letter to the public which can be read below.