Liquor store theif sentenced to four years in jail

A man who robbed two liquor stores in less than two weeks in June has been sentenced to a federal jail term.

A man who robbed two liquor stores in less than two weeks in June has been sentenced to a federal jail term.

Andrew John Harper, 27, of Red Deer was jailed for five years but will serve four years following a discount for pre-trial custody, a judge ruled on Wednesday in Red Deer provincial court.

Harper pleaded guilty last week but sentencing was adjourned by Judge David Plosz.

Crown prosecutor Tony Bell argued for a five-year sentence with time reduced for credit for the guilty plea and time served.

Defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff said Harper should receive credit for the guilty pleas and a beating in August in which Harper was pounced on by other inmates in Edmonton remand and beaten viciously.

The beating resulted in five hours of plastic surgery for Harper. The beating forced authorities to place Harper in isolation for 23 hours a day since, so Piragoff argued that should result in a credit of three-for-one for time served awaiting outcome of his case. Courts generally allow for a two-for-one credit.

The robberies occurred on June 16 and June 28.

Harper had a previous robbery conviction in 2006.

In the first at the Liquor Depot, Harper pretended to buy a bottle of booze and then at the checkout he produced a knife and told the clerk it was a robbery. He left with an undisclosed amount of cash and the booze.

The second robbery at the West Park Liquor Store saw Harper use the same method. He left with cash and liquor.

In a strange twist shortly after pleading guilty last week, Harper enjoyed a brief moment of freedom. Red Deer Remand Centre officials released him because it was discovered that at his initial bail review, conducted by telephone by a Calgary justice of the peace, that the justice forgot to swear the information.

That fact went undetected by everyone until Plosz noted the mistake.

Technically, at that point Harper hadn’t been ordered held in custody by the Calgary justice, so he was released.

To his credit Piragoff said Harper co-operated with police and a justice of the peace last week.

Plosz also commended Harper for saving the life of a fellow inmate by performing CPR on him during a prisoner transfer last month.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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