Red Deer bank robber earns 15 years in prison

A Red Deer man was handed a 15-year sentence Wednesday for a string of robberies last year.

A string of heists last year has netted a Red Deer man one of the longest robbery sentences in Alberta in several decades.

Stephen Shawn Taylor, 45, will spend the next 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to 11 robberies when he appeared in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.

He committed 10 robberies against financial institutions before he was finally arrested on June 9 after a liquor store robbery in Edmonton.

A charge of using a weapon in the commission of an offence was withdrawn.

The first two robberies were carried out in Red Deer, both on April 9. Taylor then conducted nine robberies over a 19-day period in Edmonton.

Taylor managed to walk off with about $10,000 in cash in all the heists, during which he threatened tellers by indicating he had a firearm. In the liquor store robbery he displayed a knife, Crown prosecutor Maurice Collard told court.

Collard said the spree started about 1:30 p.m. on April 9 when Taylor entered the Royal Bank in North Red Deer and demanded $1,500. The clerk went to a cash machine and told other employees about the threat. A bank manager was able to start locking doors but Taylor fled without getting any money. Fifteen minutes later Taylor walked into the ATB branch in Bower Place Shopping Centre and got away with $2,565 in cash.

Taylor switched to Edmonton and started his bank spree on May 21 where he got $3,500.

The streak continued every two or three days at banks and other financial institutions in Edmonton. During some heists there he walked off with as little as $150.

His last robbery was a liquor store in Edmonton on June 8 in the evening following a bank robbery earlier in the day.

Edmonton police were called to a hotel near 77th Street and 101st Avenue over reports of a suspicious man on June 9. There they arrested Taylor in connection with the robbery at a nearby liquor store.

Soon afterwards, police realized was connected to the bank robberies.

He was also wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for alleged parole violations.

Taylor never produced a firearm during the robberies but implied it by pointing to inside his jacket, Collard said.

Collard argued for a 17- to 20-year sentence because of the weapon threat in 10 cases and the fact he also displayed a knife once. He said Taylor’s past record was also an aggravating factor.

Defence lawyer Dave Inglis argued for 12 years. He said 20 years was handed out to a former Calgary police officer who robbed at least 22 banks a few years ago.

Judge Bert Skinner gave Taylor four years for the Red Deer robberies and three years for the robbery with the knife.

He also gave Taylor a year each for the eight other Edmonton robberies.

“When dealing with robberies, denunciation is more of a concern” than rehabilitation, Skinner said.

He said an aggravating factor was that the majority of the tellers were women and in a face-to-face setting with Taylor.

The sentence in reality is more than 15 years because Taylor has been in custody for the last seven months.