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More than two years prison for armed robbery of convenience store clerk in Kamloops

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 20, 2017 - 4:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops man who brandished a knife when he robbed a convenience store clerk will spend more than two years behind bars.

Tristan Fernandez recently turned 21 years old, but court has heard this is far from his first time in the system.

Crown prosecutor Paul Swartz told Kamloops Supreme Court today, Oct. 20, that despite Fernandez’s young age, he has a history of convictions in the youth and adult criminal justice system.

Swartz asked Justice Len Marchand to sentence Fernandez to three years behind bars. With credit for time already served, he would spend the next two years in prison. Part of the reason Swartz asked for that, he said, is due to the programs offered within the federal penitentiary system compared to provincial jails.

In October 2016, Fernandez walked into a Mac’s convenience store in Kamloops armed with a knife.

Swartz told the court Fernandez entered the store with a mask on and demanded money from the clerk, who was alone working an overnight shift.

“(Fernandez) had choices, and he chose to enter that Mac’s store,” Swartz said. “He made morally culpable choices to achieve his goal.”

Swartz also called the crime pre-meditated, noting that although Fernandez committed the robbery alone, he had an accomplice waiting in a vehicle for him outside.

He was arrested on Feb. 23 of this year, although it’s not clear why there was a delay in charges being laid.

Fernandez was found guilty in August of this year of one count of robbing the clerk and one count of disguising his face with the intent to commit an indictable offence.

Defence lawyer Don Campbell wanted a provincial sentence of two years for his client. He said Fernandez had struggled his whole life, first going into the foster care system at four years old, trying drugs and alcohol by 11 years old, and becoming what Campbell called an “entrenched addict” by the age of 13. Campbell also said both of Fernandez’s parents had their own struggles with mental illness and substance abuse.

Campbell told the court he’s worried about the potential of Fernandez being recruited by gangs in the federal system because of his athletic stature, and the fact that Fernandez could potentially view a group like that as a support network he never had.

Campbell argued there was no need for programs offered in federal penitentiaries because Fernandez hopes to attend the Guthrie House at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre, which is a 32-bed therapeutic community.

Marchand wasn't convinced a federal sentence was needed. He imposed a two-and-a-half year sentence in a provincial prison, with a lifetime ban on restricted firearms.


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