A Red Deer man found guilty of robbing a TD Canada Trust bank using bear spray early last fall received a nine-year prison sentence in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Thursday.
On Wednesday, a jury found Dustin Aaron Clark, 36, 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.
Justice Monica Bast agreed with Crown prosecutor Jason Snider that Clark qualified for delayed parole eligibility due to his lengthy criminal record, so he must serve half of his sentence before he can be released on full parole.
Charges stem from an incident at 3 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2013, when a man entered the Village Mall TD Canada Trust in Red Deer and used bear spray to rob the bank.
Bast said both the tellers, an innocent bystander outside, and another man who chased Clark suffered painful symptoms from the bear spray.
Snider was seeking a nine-to-10-year prison sentence and defence lawyer Norman Clair sought a seven-to-eight-year sentence.
During his opportunity to speak to the court prior to sentencing, Clark insisted that he didn’t do the crime, regretted requesting a jury trial, and asked Bast for a little mercy.
“I didn’t do anything. I’m sticking to my guns on this one,” said Clark.
Clark said he was an orphan, raised in group homes and foster care, and turned to petty crime to survive.
“It’s been a web I can’t get out of,” he said.
Clark has a 21-year record of over 50 convictions.
Bast said she considered several aggravating factors in reaching her decision, including the use of a weapon, the risk of exposing bank customers to bear spray, wearing a disguise, and fleeing the scene and committing further crimes.
Clark was given credit for 298 days of pre-trial custody, which will reduce the amount of time he has left to serve.
A lifetime weapons prohibition was also imposed on Clark and an order was made for a DNA sample.