THEY PICKED 'THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME'
PENTICTON - A robbery attempt at a Penticton restaurant last summer, which defence counsel said was “more like the Apple Dumpling Gang” nonetheless resulted in jail time for the accused.
Clay Robert Oldershaw of Williams Lake was sentenced in Penticton Provincial Court today, Nov. 19 to 16 months in jail.
Oldershaw was found guilty of attempted robbery on Nov. 3 after he and an accomplice attempted to rob the Capitol Restaurant on Main Street in Penticton on July 15 this year.
Judge Gale Sinclair, in reviewing details of the crime prior to sentencing, told court Oldershaw and another man entered the Capitol Restaurant at approximately 7:30 p.m. with faces masked. They approached the waitress telling her to give them the money, threatening to hurt her if she didn’t comply. Even though it was near closing time, the 73-year-old waitress thought it was a customer playing a joke on her, and offered to serve them if they showed her their faces.
In the restaurant at the time were three people including a three-year-old. A man got up from his table and began to approach Oldershaw and his accomplice, stating they had picked “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
As the man approached, Oldershaw and his accomplice began heading for the exit. Oldershaw then brandished a can of bear spray as he headed out the door. The two men drove off in a Ford pickup, and were stopped by police at Pyramid Beach just north of Penticton a short time later.
Oldershaw committed the offence while on probation following a July 7 conviction for spousal assault stemming from an incident in March of 2015. Judge Sinclair described Oldershaw’s crime as the “act of a desperate man,” following a year of turmoil in which he lost his job, his father died, and his marriage failed. Oldershaw had come to the Okanagan seeking treatment for sleep apnea and depression. He had begun taking methamphetamines and was destitute when he decided to rob the restaurant to get enough money to return to Williams Lake. Oldershaw said he never meant to hurt anyone and admitted he was "ashamed, embarrassed and felt stupid" about what he did. He also cooperated fully with police after his arrest.
Defence lawyer James Pennington described Oldershaw’s crime as “more like Don Knotts in the Apple Dumpling Gang,” a 1975 Disney comedy, suggesting evidence indicating the two men were scoping the restaurant prior to entering was more an attempt to work up the nerve. He also noted the two accused backed off immediately upon being approached by one of the restaurant’s patrons.
Noting Oldershaw’s personal circumstances at the time and his relatively clean criminal record, Pennington asked for a suspended sentence. Oldershaw, who has been in custody since the offence, has already served the equivalent of six months. Pennington said a suspended sentence was “not just a slap on the wrist” adding if Oldershaw were to commit another offence he could end up having the suspended sentence reviewed.
Judge Sinclair described a “fit and proper sentence” as something between what Crown Prosecutor Nashina Devji requested - two years’ jail time and probation - and Pennington’s request and sentenced Oldershaw to 15 months on counts of robbery and disguising face to commit an offence, and one month for breaching probation conditions. With six months credit for time served, Oldershaw faces an additional 10 months behind bars, in addition to probation.
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