Robbers couldn’t get past security at licensed North Okanagan grow-op - InfoNews

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Robbers couldn’t get past security at licensed North Okanagan grow-op

May 30, 2017 - 8:00 PM


VERNON - Three-and-a-half years ago, a group of masked men toting a gun made their way onto a rural North Okanagan property and attempted to gain access to a licensed marijuana grow-op, court heard today during court proceedings for two of the men involved.

The group tried using a shovel and an axe to break the doors in, but they didn’t get very far, Crown counsel Oliver Potestio said today, May 30, in Vernon Provincial Court during sentencing for Tyler Alexander Macleod, 27, and Damjan Madjar, 29. Both pleaded guilty to charges of using a firearm during an offence and breaking and entering.

Around 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 26, 2013, the 37-year-old caretaker of a rural Yankee Flats Road property was woken up by the facility’s alarm system. He looked at a live video surveillance feed and saw a group of four men approaching, Potestio said. Their faces were covered and one had a long barrelled firearm. Madjar is not seen on the surveillance footage, and Potestio said it is likely he waited in the car while the others attempted to break into the building.

The caretaker, who was alone, retreated to a safe room and called 911. He later told police he could hear very loud sounds as the men struck and kicked at the doors.

One of the men managed to shatter a glass sliding door, but that only exposed a heavy duty metal security screen. Despite their efforts, they could not breach the door. Potestio argued that Macleod can be seen using an axe to strike at the door, however the defence is expected to dispute that fact.

The caretaker eventually triggered an outdoor alarm which he believes scared off the perpetrators. He was not harmed and suffered no long-term repercussions, Potestio said.

Multiple RCMP units responded to the call and stopped the getaway vehicles some distance away. As it turns out, one of the vehicles was already under surveillance by Kelowna’s drug team, which put a tracking device on it as part of a separate investigation. This allowed police to track the vehicle in real time.

Six people in two separate vehicles were arrested and later charged. Items including balaclavas, gloves, shotgun shells, and cash were found in the vehicles.

Macleod’s phone contained messages from roughly two hours before the offence. Just after midnight, he texted a woman to say, “pray that I make it back safe from this. Doing some bad boy shit.”

Later, the woman asks, “Are you dead?” to which Macleod responds: “yeah babe, no, but I look good in a ski mask.”

Potestio said the language suggests Macleod was joking around and making light of what he was doing.

Out of the six men involved, three have already been sentenced. Their jail terms ranged from two to five years.

While Macleod and Madjar pleaded guilty, Potestio said the pleas came at the latest point possible — on the first day of what was set to be a jury trial.

Potestio asked Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi to consider a three to four year jail sentence for the men.

Defence lawyers Joe Gordon and William Smart are set to present their submissions Tuesday afternoon. A decision from the judge is not expected today.

— This story was updated June 21, 2017 to remove disputed information.

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