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Desperate times in the trial of a Vernon robber

Vernon Courthouse
May 23, 2013 - 2:40 PM

It was no simple robbery, according to the lawyers in 37-year-old Jay Gerald Rhem's trial.

Both Crown counsel Howard Pontious and Rhem's defense lawyer Rod Wark agreed there was a bigger picture surrounding the event than criminality alone.

On March 10, 2011, Rhem entered Charlie's Grocery on 32 Avenue in Vernon, masked and bearing a concealed cylindrical object he threatened to use on the clerk, who in turn grabbed a bat from beneath the counter. Having taken nothing from the till, Rhem fled the store with the clerk—and his bat—close behind.

Pontious described Rhem's actions as "spontaneous, desperate and stupid—emphasis on the stupid," but sympathized with him when he said he did what he had to do to feed his family.

"It would appear when he says he was in desperate circumstances, that was true," Pontious said.

Typically, robberies are punished with real jail time, Pontious said. Given the hardships that propelled Rhem to commit the attempted robbery, Pontious sought only a conditional sentence order of 18 months, served at home.

Provincial court judge Mark Takahashi noted Rhem had no previous criminal record. At the time of the incident, Rhem was using drugs, but has since gone in for methodone treatment, Takahashi said.

Taking everything into account, Takahashi sentenced Rhem to an 18 month conditional sentence order with a strict 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and a ten year firearms prohibition. He must also contribute 30 hours of community service and submit a DNA sample. Prior to sentencing, Rhem had already served one month real jail time in connection to the robbery.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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