An Eckville man who describes himself as a “drug-fuelled grieving monster” has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for a string of crimes that ended in a dangerous takedown on Feb. 1.
Charged with 79 offences and facing up to 10 years in prison, Nelson Ryan Gomes, 29, accepted a judge’s recommendation and had duty counsel help him enter his guilty pleas in Red Deer provincial court on Monday.
Duty counsel Murray shack worked with Gomes and Crown prosecutor Ann MacDonald to pare down the list, leaving Gomes to enter guilty pleas on 29 of the charges, including those arising from a robbery and police chase through three counties last summer and finishing off with a one-day crime spree in Red Deer on Feb. 1
The first offence was a drug offence laid by police conducting a traffic stop in Red Deer on June 12, 2015. The investigating officer found 42 fentanyl tablets in Gomes’s pocket and 3.9 g of methamphetamine in the console of the truck he had been driving.
He was charged with simple possession of illegal drugs and later released. Gomes got into trouble again on June 23, when he gave a false name to Sylvan Lake police during a traffic stop.
Then, on Aug. 20, police raided his home in a rural area outside of Rocky Mountain House and seized a variety of stolen goods, including rifles, shotguns, a crossbow and a generator.
Gomes was granted bail on those charges and had not been out of jail for six days when he struck again. MacDonald said his next group of offences arose from a planned robbery at the GTI gas station at Alhambra Corner on Hwy 11, about 20 km east of Rocky Mountain House.
Wearing a mask over his face, Gomes waited until staff were preoccupied with shutting down for the night, and then took out a knife to cut the cords to the till. There was a commotion at the till and terrified staff yelled out as Gomes ran out the door and sped down Hwy 11 toward Red Deer, bearing the damaged till and nearly $1,400 in cash.
He was granted release again after a bail review on Dec. 17, but caught attention again when his ID was found inside a pickup truck that had been reported stolen and found abandoned.
The saga culminated with Gomes’s arrest on Feb. 3 after a series of crimes that ended with his arrest following a police pursuit.
Gomes pleaded guilty to charges including possession of narcotics, robbery, illegal possession of stolen firearms, illegal possession of a stolen crossbow, unsafe storage of firearms, wearing a mask to commit an offence, flight from police, possession of stolen vehicles, obstructing police, theft and various breaches of release conditions.
MacDonald asked for a sentence of seven to 10 years. Shack said the recommendations was appropriate, but asked that the judge look at the lower range, with 305 days of credit for the time Gomes has spent in custody since his first arrest last summer.
Invited to address the court, Gomes read a statement written in block letters on lined note paper. He apologized to the court and his victims, saying he accepts full responsibility for his actions. Gomes then described how he had been a troubled teen who became a responsible adult and father of two small boys, until run off the rails by a family trauma.
“My little sister Jennifer died of a seizure and it sparked a piece of me I did not know existed,” said Gomes.
“The death of Jennifer turned me into a drug-fuelled, grieving monster looking for any excuse or means of neglecting my life as a whole to mask the pain I truly had no idea how to cope with.”
Gomes said he recognizes that he needs help and is willing to take counselling to get his life back in order.
Judge Jim Hunter described Gomes’s last night on the streets as a crime spree, stating that the robberies alone could net a sentence of life in prison.
“The sheer volume of offenses is almost staggering,” said Hunter, who also acknowledged Gomes’s guilty pleas and his willingness to take responsibility for his actions.
“For a number of years, you proved that you can be a productive member of society and I hope that you can get back to that.”
He passed a global sentence of eight years and two weeks, minus 305 days of credit for time already served, with a recommendation at Gomes’s request that the sentence be served at the Bowden Institution.
Hunter banned Gomes from possessing all firearms for 10 years and banned him for life from owning restricted or prohibited weapons. He also ordered that Gomes provide a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank.