Teenager held in custody for five armed robberies

A teenage boy is headed to closed custody for a string of armed robberies in Blackfalds that caused “harm and fear.”

A teenage boy is headed to closed custody for a string of armed robberies in Blackfalds that caused “harm and fear.”

Judge James Glass sentenced the 17-year-old to 18 months in custody, followed by 12 months of probation, on Thursday in Red Deer youth court.

The boy, who can’t be named because of provisions in the Canada Youth Justice Act, pleaded guilty to five robberies in Central Alberta between October 2014 and February 2015, as well as three charges of disguising his face with the intent to commit an indictable offence and two counts of using an imitation firearm.

Crown prosecutor Brittany Ashmore said the offences were very serious and if the boy was an adult, he would be facing a jail term of six years.

Ashmore sought two years less a day in custody, followed by probation, as well as a 10-year firearms prohibition and an order compelling the boy to supply a sample of his DNA.

The teen robbed the Fas Gas, Pony Express Liquor Store, Pizza King and IDA Pharmacy, all in Blackfalds.

An underlying addictions issue is believed to have driven the youth to commit the offences. According to the reports developed before sentencing, the youth had issues with marijuana, methamphetamines and cocaine.

Defence counsel Walter Kubanek reminded the court that the sentencing aims of the Canada Youth Justice Act include sanctions that give youth the opportunity for rehabilitation.

To this aim, Kubanek sought a six-to-12-month period of open custody with a direction that some of it be served at an addictions treatment centre to aid in the youth’s rehabilitation.

Kubanek pointed to the pre-sentence report that indicated a closed custody sentence is very limited in its ability to provide a youth with drug addictions treatment.

The teen has been in closed custody for four months since he turned himself in to police.

Glass sentenced the youth to 18 months in custody and 12 months of open custody, followed by six months of community supervision. Glass included a recommendation that the youth serve some of this time in a treatment centre.

Glass also approved the firearms prohibition and DNA orders sought by the Crown.