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Jury to deliberate on fate of polite young man who stole pills and cash from West Kelowna drugstore

June 13, 2016 - 4:30 PM


KELOWNA – A Supreme Court jury heard closing arguments today in the case of a West Kelowna man accused of using an imitation handgun to steal thousands of pain pills and hundreds of dollars from a drugstore two years ago.

Brandon Joseph Oswald, 24, was arrested as he left the Shoppers Drug Mart on Dobbin Road just before 10 p.m., March 11, 2014. Staff were preparing to close for the day when a man came in wearing sunglasses and a bandana over his face. He was carrying what appeared to be a black handgun and ordered staff to hand over pain pills and cash. 

As he left the store roughly ten RCMP officers were there waiting.

“One of (the employees) was hidden,” a witness told shortly after. “He called the police but they already knew about it. They were already there.”

Oswald was arrested and placed in custody but later released.

His trial began two weeks ago in Kelowna Supreme Court where his defence lawyer Valerie Hartney admits he left with the pills and cash but disputes it was an armed robbery. A shotgun was also found in his apartment but he denies it belonged to him.

The jury of six men and six women heard closing arguments Monday, June 13, and crown asked them to find him guilty of several counts of armed robbery, possession of a weapon without a valid licence and several lesser charges.

Crown lawyers Angela Ross and Sarah Firestone spent the last two weeks trying to convince the jury that Oswald, who became addicted to doctor-prescribed opiates, knew exactly what he was doing when he entered the store and the effect it had on employees.

The trial included testimony from police officers, firearms experts, store employees and neighbours as well as video footage showing him point the fake gun at employee.

“He did more than just possess that imitation firearm,” Ross said. “He held it so that all the employees could see it. He only put it away when he had taken the money and the drugs and was walking out the exit to leave the store.”

Oswald's lawyer says he was not in his right mind, having been on a narcotics bender ever since his mother, grandmother and friend died. She asked the jury to find him innocent of the robbery charges, calling it a “complete emotional breakdown” caused by stress.

“This case is complex, it’s not about a dangerous, villainous, gun-toting, violent criminal. It’s about someone who did a terrible thing. He has to live with that,” she said.

Virtually all of the victims of the crime commented on how polite Oswald was, with one even saying she wished she could have spoken to him longer.

Justice Allison Beames planned to give her final instructions before turning the matter over to the jury this afternoon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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