Liquor store robber gets 33 months

A provincial court judge has asked a robber to get help while in jail for the next three years, and turn his life around.

Judge Anne Wallace made the recommendation to Aaron Scott Hastie, 24, after Hastie pleaded guilty in Vernon Provincial Court to three liquor outlet hold-ups in late December and mid-January.

Wallace sentenced Hastie to concurrent 33-month sentences for the robberies, and added a concurrent 30-day sentence after Hastie admitted to breaching an undertaking. He was given credit for 88 days time already served.

“It’s completely up to you, but there are lots of programs available in custody for you to take and turn your life around,” said Wallace to Hastie, who appeared in court via video.

“It’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do.”

Hastie admitted to robbing the Liquor Outlet store on Dec. 31, as well as holding up the Squires Four Pub Cold Beer and Wine Store on Jan. 12, and the Longhorn Pub Beer and Wine Store the following evening.

In the January thefts, Hastie produced a note to the store clerks asking them to calmly place the cash in a bag, and to “not do anything stupid as I have a gun.”

Crown counsel Howard Pontious told the court there was no evidence that Hastie had a weapon, and Hastie’s lawyer, Joe Deuling, said his client had told him he never had a gun.

In every case, Hastie was caught on video surveillance tapes, and his probation officer identified him in two of the three robberies.

Hastie also left behind a fingerprint on a glass display case, which was identified as his.

Pontious sought a prison term of three years.

“The range for this type of crime is two-to-nine years, but he did plead guilty at the first opportunity, and that must be taken into account,” said Pontious. “The vulnerability of the young people who work in these types of stores must also be considered.”

Deuling agreed with Pontious.

“If your honour would like to consider something less, that would be nice,” said Deuling, who, during his closing, pointed out his client had some drug issues which were symptomatic of his client’s underlying problem of being abused by an acquaintance of his father’s while he was a child.

“Your honour, he could take a number of programs in custody which might give him insight to his problems, and he’ll have support when he gets out,” said Deuling, referring to Hastie’s mom and step-father, who live in the North Okanagan and were present in the courtroom.

Hastie, when given the chance to address the court by Wallace, said nothing.

“I’m very sympathetic to your upbringing,” said Wallace. “But the fact you chose to take your anger out on individuals who did nothing is a very disturbing factor.

“Vernon has had a problem lately with these type of robberies.”

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