FIRED TWICE AT POLICE
A Surrey man is facing a minimum jail sentence of seven years for robbing a Kelowna jewelry store in December 2011. Devan Markcus Wong pleaded guilty to robbing Premier Pawn shop at gunpoint and shooting twice at police before taking a pizza delivery driver hostage and fleeing to West Kelowna.
The 20-year-old man, currently in custody, appeared in Kelowna Supreme Court today. In a series of surveillance video clips played for the court, Wong is seen entering the pawn shop on Bredin Road wearing dark clothing, face mask and white ball cap. With a loaded nine millimeter gun in hand Wong forced the shop owners to hand over $250,000 worth of jewelry which he stuffed into a black duffel bag and white bags.
Crown prosecutor David Ruse says Wong kicked the shop owner in the small of his back during the robbery, which was interrupted when a customer nearly walked into the shop before spotting the suspect and running for help. Wong ran out of the store, turning down a narrow alley where he dropped the bags of jewelry. Police in pursuit, including one officer on foot, say Wong fired two shots at them, missing and hitting the pavement.
Wong managed to escape police by hopping a fence near Spall Road and hitching a ride with a young pizza delivery driver, taking him hostage at gunpoint and instructing him to drive to Westside Road. The driver, who was under the age of 19 at the time, did not provide a victim impact statement for today's sentencing.
Defence lawyer Grant Gray says the driver told police he gradually felt less threatened during the 45 minute drive and began chatting with Wong about their music interests. The driver said Wong had been holding the gun in his general direction, but not directly at him.
When they arrived at Westside Road, Wong was met by an accomplice who threatened the driver not to get out of the vehicle.
Ruse says investigation of Wong's cell phone records reveals he went to the Kelowna airport later that day and took a one-way flight with Westjet back to Vancouver, unnoticed. The investigation also revealed Wong had left Surrey, where he resides with his mother, the morning prior to the robbery.
Ruse is requesting Wong serve between eight to 10 years in prison and, “should be sentenced at the top of that range,” for firing unlawfully at police and kidnapping a man.
“He took a loaded handgun into a robbery... he knows the seriousness of what he's doing,” Ruse says.
For a young man Wong has an “extremely serious” criminal record, Ruse said, with multiple convictions as a youth including assault, robbery, failing to comply with police and obstructing a peace officer. Just months prior to the Kelowna robbery in 2011 Wong was serving time in an adult prison. He transferred there from a youth facility by his own request.
While in custody Wong classified for enhanced supervision programs due to his “aggressive and abusive” behaviour, Ruse says. Wong is alleged to have threatened other inmates.
In Wong's defence, Gray says his client should be given credit for coming forward and pleading guilty.
“He is still a very young man,” he said, and rehabilitation should be a factor in sentencing. Seven years in prison would be an ample sentence for Wong, he said, and hopes his client will get on the right track with help from programs in a federal corrections facility.
Gray is also asking his client be given one and a half day's credit for the time he's spent in custody, which could knock two years off his sentence.
Justice John Savage will make his final decision on sentencing June 26.
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