Found Not Guilty in Horrific Home Invasion Robbery
CC: s.344(b) – Robbery, s.348(1)(b) – Break and Enter and Commit Robbery (Home Invasion Robbery), s.145(3) – Breach of Recognizance; YCJA: s.137 x 5 – Breach of Youth Court Order; CC: s.279(2) – Unlawful Confinement, s.268 – Aggravated Assault
My client, and five of her companions, left Manitoba in a stolen truck and headed toward BC, committing a string of offences on the way, including numerous gas thefts. While in Saskatchewan, an RCMP officer attempted to stop them. They initially pulled over, and then sped away as the officer approached the vehicle. They evaded the police by engaging in a dangerous high-speed chase on gravel roads. While in Alberta, they were running low on fuel and entered a farmyard, belonging to the victim. Three of them approached the front door and inquired about where they might obtain some gasoline. An elderly woman, the sole occupant of the residence, let them in while she made some calls. Upon her return to the front porch, she was severely beaten and rendered unconscious. She fell down the stairs to the basement and was assaulted again repeatedly while she lay unconscious. At this point, the others entered the residence and ransacked her home, stealing numerous items and leaving a chainsaw in the hallway. She was tied up with a dog leash and an electrical cord. Inside her purse, they found the keys to her SUV. They ditched their stolen vehicle behind a barn and sped away in their new stolen vehicle, belonging to the elderly woman. As they drove through Alberta, they purchased items with the cash and credit cards that they stole from her. My client’s boyfriend got arrested in Medicine Hat, while the others were in McDonald’s, after a witness reported him assaulting her in the parking lot. The others continued driving to BC. My client was driving at a very high rate of speed when she failed to make a corner and rolled the vehicle several times. That is when they were all finally taken into custody.
I am the only lawyer who pleaded “not guilty” on behalf of my client to these charges, and insisted on taking it to trial. All of the co-accused pleaded guilty and received extremely high sentences. My client’s brother, who appeared to be the least culpable, received the maximum jail sentence allowable under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (three years jail, plus probation for two years). The other co-accused, because they were adults, received much higher sentences; the most culpable was sentenced to six years in prison. After conducting a lengthy trial, the judge found my client “not guilty” of all charges, but did find her guilty to the lesser and included offence of theft under (instead of robbery), and to being unlawfully in a dwelling house (instead of B&E). We ordered a Pre-Sentence Report and adjourned sentencing. I persuaded the Crown to join me in a recommendation for time served, plus probation with some community service hours. The only reason she spent five months in pre-trial custody is because she fired her last lawyer for not being able to get her out on bail. I negotiated her release within a couple of weeks of being retained. Unfortunately for my client, she went AWOL and did not present herself at her sentencing, and a warrant issued for her arrest.