Teen receives maximum youth sentence for violent liquor store robbery in Winnipeg
WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba judge has sentenced a Winnipeg teen to the youth maximum sentence for his involvement this past November in a robbery at the Tyndall Market Liquor Mart, and for ensuing threats and attacks on patrons inside and outside of an attached mall.
Judge Dale Schille told court Tuesday morning at the Manitoba Youth Centre, the violence was of a gratuitous nature, as the youth received a three-year sentence.
He told court the victims offered no resistance or challenge to the attacks.
“The severity and number of the charges require a significant sentence to be imposed,” Schille said during his decision.
Court heard the 15-year-old, along with two co-accused, went into the Liquor Mart on the afternoon of Nov. 20, 2019, hiding their faces while grabbing several bottles of liquor off the shelves before leaving the store.
The teen, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, assaulted three employees, before leaving the store and then attacked and threatened people in the attached mall.
In all, there were 10 victims, but Schille told court the violence has affected far more people.
“The impact of these offences is not restricted to the persons involved,” Schille told the court, saying it left many more Winnipeggers shaken and feeling unsafe. “This is the type of incident which is likely to cause some Winnipeg residents to pose the question to themselves whether the city is as safe as they thought it was, or if this could happen in the middle of the afternoon at a busy shopping mall, is anyone really safe anywhere in the city?”
Liquor Mart employee Randi Chase, 26, was knocked unconscious in the attack. She suffered a seizure, a concussion, and has had ongoing seizures ever since. Chase has also been unable to return to work and told the court during an earlier sentencing hearing that she still struggles with the emotional impact of the incident.
Another Liquor Mart employee who provided a victim impact statement told the court he suffered a fractured shoulder, torn ligaments, a sprained wrist, and is still dealing with persistent back pain. The employee has sought physiotherapy treatment for the injuries, and said he will soon have to pay out-of-pocket costs of $300 per month, when his benefits run out.
Court heard the 15-year-old, who was born in Winnipeg but grew up on a Manitoba First Nation, has no previous record and pleaded guilty to several offences. Schille said the teen was intoxicated by drugs and alcohol to the point that he had no memory of committing the offences.
Schille told the court while he feels the teen is remorseful, the severity and number of offences, warrants the maximum youth sentence.
Court heard he got mixed up with the wrong crowd after a recent move to the city. The judge explained Gladue factors, which must be taken into account when sentencing Indigenous people due to the adverse effects of colonialism, were quite limited in this case due to the serious nature of the offences and the teen’s relatively normal upbringing.
Judges are required to consider whether an offender has been affected by alcohol or substance abuse in their community, poverty, racism, and family or community breakdown.
“(He) has not been significantly affected by the traditional impacts of colonialism,” Schille told court.
With credit for time served, the 15-year-old has two years and three months remaining on his sentence, but court heard he will likely only serve nine months of that in secure custody while undergoing substance abuse and mental health treatment.
The judge explained the teen could serve the remainder of his sentence in open custody followed by a period of community supervision.
UNION REPRESENTING LIQUOR MART WORKERS REACTS
The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union represents Liquor Mart employees. MGEU said in a statement it hopes the conclusion of the court case can bring closure to members, including Chase and her family.
“This was a horrific, violent attack on one of our members – something she will live with for the rest of her life,” the statement reads. “This case shows that there are consequences for this type of violent criminal activity. We are hopeful that this coupled with secure entrances will provide a safer work environment and shopping experience inside our liquor stores.”
IMPACT OF CONTROLLED ENTRANCES ON THEFTS ‘VERY POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGING’
The robbery occurred while Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries was in the process of installing a controlled entrance at its Tyndall Market location. The Crown corporation isn’t commenting directly on the sentence but said in a statement the safety and well-being of staff and customers is its top priority, as nearly all city Liquor Marts now have controlled entrances.
“We are in the final phases of our rollout of the controlled entrance initiative to Winnipeg Liquor Marts with the remaining locations expected to be completed over the next month. Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has remained on schedule as planned,” a spokesperson for MBLL told CTV News. “While I can tell you that what we have been seeing so far with the controlled entrances is very positive and encouraging, we are still in the process of assessing the overall impacts this initiative is having.”
Liquor and Lotteries said it may have more information to share early this summer.