A Crown prosecutor argued for a stiff jail sentence for a man convicted of pointing an imitation gun at a Red Deer security guard, saying the victim is still “terrorized” because she thought the handgun was real.
“On this day, I feared for my life,” read Crown Maurice Collard, from a written victim impact statement from store security officer Crystal Howse.
Howse had what looked like a firearm pointed at her head on Oct. 8, after she tried to stop a man from shoplifting bedding materials from The Bay.
Brett Christopher Morgan, 35, was found guilty in Red Deer provincial court in December of possession of property under $5,000, robbery and using an imitation firearm while committing an indictable offence.
At his pre-sentencing hearing on Thursday, Collard told Judge Dave Plosz that there should be no legal distinction between when a victim sees a gun pointed at her face and when the firearm turns out to be an imitation.
The trauma experienced in the moment is real, he added. “She thought her life could end that day.”
Collard asked for a jail sentence of four to five-and-a-half years for Morgan, adding the offender’s record shows a pattern of escalating aggression. “Past prison time has not changed him.”
But defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton disagreed that her client was becoming more violent, saying his history does not show this.
She said the shoplifting incident was not the same as someone robbing a convenience store with a firearm.
Morgan was described as being addicted to drugs and petty theft. Referring to a Reader’s Digest article provided by her client, MacNaughton said, “He thinks he’s a certain type of kleptomaniac with a compulsion to steal.”
She asked the judge for a jail sentence of two years less a day, so her client could go to a provincial jail instead of a federal penitentiary.
While Morgan was also found guilty of driving while disqualified, MacNaughton said the punishment for this should be served concurrently, since it all happened on the same day as part of the same incident.
Morgan later told Plosz “Yes, I feel sorry for Ms. Howse and what I did that day.”
While he maintained his innocence, he said at Thursday’s hearing that he instinctively reacted because Howse grabbed him. “All I wanted to do was to get away. . . .”
Plosz asked Morgan, who remains in custody, to return to court on Feb. 27 for sentencing.