October 19, 2016 - 2:50 PM
“YOU WILL SEE ME SOONER OR LATER.”
KELOWNA – A man charged with robbing a Kelowna bank was sentenced today to nine months in jail for threatening a witness in the case.
Tayler Verhaegen, 25, was arrested late December 2014 for a daylight robbery at the Bank of Montreal in the Capri Centre on Harvey Avenue two days before Christmas.
RCMP Const. Kris Clark said in a media release Verhaegen used a plastic strap to tie shut the front doors, jumped over the counter and demanded money. Clark released a surveillance photo of a man dressed in a black hoodie and wearing glasses entering the front door.
Verhaegen maintains his innocence and even contacted several local media after the release was sent out threatening to sue if the story was not removed. Crown lawyer Mallory Treddenick read passages of a pre-sentence report in which Verhaegen is quoted as saying he “could not believe he was guilty of the present offence” and would be appealing any conviction.
Verhaegen also contacted a man he knows personally who testified at the pre-sentence hearing, violating a condition of his release.
“I wanted to make sure everything is good between us since the police think you’re a rat.” He texted.
“I’m not sure if I trust you. I want to figure out what I should expect from you. You will see me sooner or later.”
He also texted “thanks for throwing me under the bus.”
In order to protect his identity during the texting, Verhaegen downloaded a caller identification blocking app.
“There is an element of planning there,” Treddenick said.
Verhaegen was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.
“They were not overt threats,” Justice Ellen Burdett said. “(The victim) was left anxious and frightened for both himself and his family."
Defense lawyer Michael Stephenson says Verhaegen lacks understanding of the repercussions of his crimes and asked for a three month sentence but when asked to address the court, Verhaegen says he has not been diagnosed with any mental disorders.
“That’s what I wanted to know,” Burdett said.
Throughout the sentencing Verhaegen sat upright with a stiff posture but showed little emotion. Clean-shaven with short hair, he wore a colorful sport coat reminiscent of a video test pattern.
“Can you tell me about your suit,” Burdett even asked.
“I do have two other suits,” Verhaegen said. “I worried they would be wrinkled (if sent to jail).”
He also referenced a local prosecutor as his inspiration for the outfit.
“I look to Clark Burnett who wears vibrant suits,” he said. “I hoped it would raise (my) spirits.”
He was sentenced to nine months in jail followed by one year probation for threatening the witness. His trial on the robbery charge is scheduled to start in January.
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