A young man with no prior criminal record is off to jail for two more years after a string of drug-fuelled robberies last year in Popkum and Chilliwack.
Soon after being arrested in April 2015, Herbert Hanuse pleaded guilty to seven charges in connection with four robberies, all but one of which took place over a two-week period last spring.
Judge Richard Miller sentenced the 25-year-old in provincial court in Chilliwack Jan. 12 to three years and one month in custody followed by three years probation for the crimes.
He will get credit of 13.5 months for the nine months he has served already.
Crown counsel Paul Blessin asked for four to five years in custody, and Hanuse’s lawyer Gurpreet Gill asked for two years less a day.
Defence’s argument, however, was impossible for Miller to implement even if he wanted to given mandatory minimum sentencing provisions requiring one year each for firearms offences to run consecutive to all other sentences.
Hanuse’s spree last year began on March 25 when he entered the Subway restaurant on Bunker Road in Popkum with a knife, tapped on the till and took $100 to $150 from the clerk and fled on a bicycle.
Nine days later on April 3, face covered with a bandana, he went next door to the Subway to the Petro-Canada station and attempted to rob the store at knife-point. The clerk, however, came from behind the counter with a golf club and struggled with Hanuse who hit the man down to the ground knocking him unconscious.
Security video footage of this incident was shown to the court at a bail hearing held last April. The store clerk has since recovered but he spent time at Chilliwack General Hospital and Royal Columbian due to bleeding on the brain.
It was at that bail hearing that Judge Steven Point denied the men to be released, pointing to the need for public confidence in the courts.
Six days after the April 3 robbery, accompanied by Allan Rusk who was driving a stolen BMW, Hanuse entered the Wells Road Grocery in Chilliwack with a knife and his face covered and made off with about $150, cigarettes and lighters.
Half an hour later, the two were caught on the Cheam Reserve, where both are from, and Hanuse not only confessed to those three robberies but also a 2012 robbery at gunpoint at the Popkum Market where he stole $100 and fled on foot.
Rusk was sentenced last June to two months plus 19 days for his part in the Wells Road robbery.
Hanuse’s defence said his addiction to heroin fuelled the robberies, but the judge didn’t accept that as an excuse.
“That drug use is woefully inadequate to explain his behaviour,” Miller said in handing down the term in prison.
In sentencing Hanuse, Miller took into account his aboriginal heritage, the fact that he has no criminal record and the fact that he pleaded guilty so early on.
“I suppose he deserves some credit for the fact that he fessed up to these robberies,” Blessin told the court.