Accused denies robbing Red Deer bank

A self-described petty street drug dealer took the stand as the defence’s only witness in his two-week-long trial for armed robbery of a Red Deer bank.

A self-described petty street drug dealer took the stand as the defence’s only witness in his two-week-long trial for armed robbery of a Red Deer bank.

Dustin Aaron Clark, 36, of Red Deer was the only witness called on Monday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench before Justice Monica Bast.

The Crown started the afternoon by wrapping up its case before the defence called the accused as its sole witness.

On the stand, in leg irons, Clark was adamant that he was not the perpetrator of the Sept. 23, 2013, robbery of the Village Mall TD Canada Trust Bank.

He faces several charges, including armed robbery with violence, assault with a weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon, wearing a disguise to commit an offence, mischief and theft under $5,000.

Clark is alleged to have discharged a can of bear spray in the bank as part of the robbery.

Clark testified he sells drugs at the street level and on the morning of the robbery he was driven to a local motel by his girlfriend and went into a room to collect a drug debt from a client.

He said he had purchased the bear spray a week prior and had brought it with him for protection.

He said he had been robbed in the past and when he goes into situations like this, he doesn’t know what to expect on the other side of the door, so it is best to be armed and prepared for the worst.

After knocking repeatedly and having one occupant open the door a crack, he pushed his way in and demanded the debt be paid.

After tempers cooled, he said he set the bear spray canister down.

After talking, Clark said they reached a repayment plan and that he would get the money back as early as that evening. He left the room and went to his girlfriend’s car.

It was then that he realized he had left the bear spray behind, he testified.

Not wanting to return to a room with a can of bear spray and the people he had just threatened with the bear spray, he left, he said. He said he regretted leaving the bear spray behind.

That can of bear spray was previously entered as evidence into the trial with a fingerprint on it matching Clark’s.

Defence counsel Normal Clair also asked Clark about the rest of his day. Clark said he went on other drug dealer-related errands and carried on with his day. When asked what he was doing at 3 p.m., the time of the robbery, he said “certainly not robbing a TD bank.”

In his cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Jason Snider walked Clark, Bast and the jury through a criminal record Clark described as “lengthy.” Snider noted how even though Clark described himself as a drug dealer “off and on since I was 12,” he had never been convicted of drug-related offences.

“I just never got caught,” said Clark. “Maybe I should stick to that instead of this stuff.”

When Snider asked Clark repeatedly about the robbery, Clark was adamant he was not there and that he did not attempt to rob the bank.

Clark was the last witness called in the trial. Closing arguments are scheduled today.