Okanagan woman sentenced for her part in crime spree | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan woman sentenced for her part in crime spree

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October 16, 2017 - 2:52 PM

PENTICTON  - A woman who took part in a three-day crime spree spanning the Kootenays and the South Okanagan was sentenced for her actions in Penticton court today.

Michelle Britany Mercier, 21, received a 293 day jail term — more than Crown was requesting — for robbery, theft of a motor vehicle and breach arising out of incidents spanning the three day period from Dec. 13 to Dec. 15, 2016, when she and accomplice Dillon Cote stole a series of vehicles as they made their way from Cranbrook to Oliver.

Court heard the pair’s trouble with the law began on Dec. 13 when they were caught shoplifting $60 worth of goods from the Real Canadian Superstore in Cranbrook.

Police were then called to a Cranbrook residence around 5:13 a.m. Dec. 14, where a woman reported befriending the two and allowed them to stay in her home overnight. When she woke to let her dog out early on Dec. 14, her car was gone, as were Mercier and Cote, leaving a note that just said, “sorry.”

Police in Grand Forks were then notified of a single vehicle collision near Christina Lake involved the stolen car. 

The two suspects had already received a ride from a passing motorist who drove them to Rock Creek, where they stole his pickup truck when he stopped for gas.

Police were then notified of a robbery on Highway 3 on Anarchist Mountain, three kilometres east of Osoyoos. A woman taking her three children to school had stopped to assist the two when they drove the stolen pickup off the highway and down an embankment. Cote pulled the woman from the vehicle, let her children out and the pair drove off with the vehicle.

Cote and Mercier then drove to Oliver where they hid from police at a Primrose Lane residence.

Police became aware of their whereabouts through a tip from an unrelated case. The house was surrounded by members of the RCMP Emergency Response Team, and after several hours of negotiations failed, the two were forced out by a gas shell was fired into the home.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Vandersluys noted Mercier’s lack of prior criminal record, but also noted she had breached release conditions by trying to contact Cote, who had been sentenced in July to over eight years in prison for his part in the crime spree. He also pointed out people trying to help the pair were victimized.

Vandersluys asked Judge Gregory Koturbash for a sentence of between 202 and 217 days in jail.

Defence lawyer Mandy Cheema said her client had been “doing well” since her release from jail pending sentencing. She was no longer using crack or speed, had disassociated herself from negative peers and had sought 2.5 hours of participation in a native healing centre. She was also currently working two jobs.

Mercier also took responsibility for her involvement in the crimes and now realizes Cote was a bad influence, Cheema said, noting Mercier’s family and new partner were in the gallery in a show of support.

Cheema said her client had taken big steps to show she could be a contributing member of society, asking the judge to consider a conditional sentence order.

Mercier apologized to the court for her involvement in the incidents.

Judge Koturbash said Mercier’s guilty plea, youth, employment, family support and lack of criminal record as positives, also noting her addiction to drugs at the time of the crimes.

However, Koturbash found it concerning the crimes were committed while good Samaritans were in the act of aiding the two, noting the crimes had a significant impact on the victims, including the three children who witnessed Mercier and Cote’s behaviour. He also found it concerning the acts were committed while on drugs, noting many addicts don't resort to violent crime.

Koturbash found neither counsel’s recommendations appropriate, exceeding Crown’s request with a sentence totalling 293 days.

With time served, Mercier has an additional 234 days jail time. She also faces an 18 months of probation, along with a $60 restitution order to Real Canadian Superstore in Cranbrook, a $27,000 restitution demand from the Insurance Corporation of B.C. and $700 in victim surcharge fees.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 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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