Jury convicts Clark of robbery

A jury has found Dustin Aaron Clark guilty of five charges, including robbing a TD Canada Trust bank using bear spray early last fall.

A jury has found Dustin Aaron Clark guilty of five charges, including robbing a TD Canada Trust bank using bear spray early last fall.

The 36-year-old Red Deer man was found guilty of all but one of the charges stemming from the Sept. 23, 2013, incident before Justice Monica Bast in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench late Wednesday.

The jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of robbery, using a disguise with the intention of committing an offence, using a weapon dangerous to the public and two counts of assault with a weapon. He was found not guilty of theft under $5,000.

At about 3 p.m. a man entered the Village Mall TD Canada Trust bank with his hoodie up, a torn piece of t-shirt covering his face and sunglasses.

During the two-week long trial, bank tellers testified that they had been affected by the bear spray, and no one was able to positively identify the man who robbed the bank.

Then, as the man fled the bank, people nearby heard screams that the bank had just been robbed and three men chased after the robber. One got close but was hit by the bear spray.

The man then found refuge in the basement of a nearby house when the homeowner, who thought they were being a good Samaritan by helping, took him in. He said the robber was put in the basement, but gone within a short period of time. Later on police were called to search the basement as items were found out of place, and items had been left behind. The homeowner found a hotel keycard and a pair of sunglasses, while police would later find a canister of bear spray.

A thumb print found on the canister was matched to Clark and he was arrested.

During his testimony Clark said he had purchased the canister about a week before Sept. 23, 2013. The self-described “street-level drug dealer” said, on the morning of the robbery he was driven to the Aladdin Motel by his girlfriend to collect a drug debt in his girlfriend’s Honda Civic. He brought the bear spray with him for protection in case the situation turned violent. He said he entered a room aggressively at first, but as the tension dissipated he placed the bear spray down on a table. He testified he left the room and forgetting the bear spray, not wanting to return to a room full of people he had just threatened with the canister, he left.

However, an occupant of the motel room testified that instead Clark had taken the bear spray with him. She also said she saw Clark get into a red Ford Mustang with a man. That same Mustang was later identified as the vehicle the robber was seen exiting before going into the TD Canada Trust Bank.

Clark will return to Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench today for sentencing at 2 p.m.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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