UPDATE: Serial B.C. bank robber sentenced to seven years in prison - InfoNews

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UPDATE: Serial B.C. bank robber sentenced to seven years in prison

Images of Shaun Cornish from security cameras released by police before his arrest on bank robbery charges.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/RCMP
February 28, 2017 - 2:30 PM

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KAMLOOPS - Shaun Cornish spent weeks robbing banks across western Canada, now he will spend the next four years behind bars for his actions.

At a sentencing hearing in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Feb. 28, Crown prosecutor Evan Goulet asked for a sentence of eight to 12 years in prison, while defence lawyer Dale Melville felt a six-year sentence is appropriate.

Supreme Court judge Keith Bracken decided a sentence of seven years was appropriate. Cornish has been given credit for three years in custody, so he will serve four years of new jail time.

Cornish was arrested in January 2015 after committing nine bank robberies in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan between Dec. 1, 2014 and Jan. 28, 2015, and making off with a total of $15,000. In each robbery Cornish wore some sort of disguise including a toque, dark clothing and sunglasses.

He pleaded guilty last year to nine counts of robbery and four counts of using an imitation firearm while committing a robbery.

Goulet told the court the first robbery was at a CIBC in Princeton. Cornish placed a decoy 911 call reporting a suspicious incident at the local hospital. The only officer on duty attended, unknowingly distracting him from a bank robbery minutes later.

Cornish entered the bank and approached a teller. He asked how her day was going, to which she replied fine. Cornish told her he was sorry, but it was about to get worse. He showed an airsoft pellet gun and slid her a note. Cornish was at the bank for about five minutes before leaving with less than $500.

Court heard that on Dec. 9, 2014 Cornish walked into an Interior Savings in Vernon with an imitation handgun tucked into his waistband. Some of the seven employees working didn’t believe the firearm was real, but Cornish demanded money from all of them. Cornish raised his voice, saying “I’ve been planning this for a while... hurry the fuck up... do you want to see your family for Christmas?”

Goulet says Cornish apologized, wished them happy holidays and left the bank with over $1,000.

On Dec. 19, 2014 Cornish attended a bank in High River, Alberta just before it closed. He approached a teller and told her “you know what’s about to happen.” He asked the teller for only large bills, pulled an imitation firearm out and assured a customer inside that he was not robbing customers. Cornish mumbled he was sorry making off with about $2,000.

Goulet says Cornish robbed a Royal Bank in Merritt in Dec. 23, 2014. He approached one of the tellers, said he said he had a gun, but didn’t show one. As the teller was logging into the bank system, Cornish told her to hurry up and warned her she had 10 seconds. Again he apologized and left the bank with about $1,000.

Cornish held up a teller at a bank in Swift Current, Sask. on Jan. 8, 2015. Goulet says Cornish walked into the bank and saw an an employee with her back turned to the front door. He yelled "Hey" before walking toward her, telling her he wanted all of her money. He appeared to have a handgun.

Court heard the employee gave Cornish $1,250 but he was dissatisfied, saying he needed $5,000 more in cash. She told Cornish that was all she had. Cornish swore and walked out of the bank.

Five days later, a bank in Lethbridge was robbed just before closing time. A teller had cash on her counter and Cornish told her he needed all of it, while showing his imitation handgun. After collecting the money, Cornish approached another employee saying he needed all of her cash too. The teller used a decoy bag to place the cash in. During the ordeal, Cornish told her to “hurry up” and “I’m a good person.”

He pointed the gun at one of the tellers and told her he was in a bad place. Court heard Cornish looked at the money and said it wasn’t enough. He eventually collected $530 and apologized to the customers inside before leaving.

The seventh robbery happened on Jan. 11, 2015 in Claresholm, Alta. Court heard Cornish held his imitation firearm while demanding money, telling employees “don’t make me use this.” A teller began collecting cash for him and placing it on the counter. Goulet said Cornish was dissatisfied with the bills the teller was collecting.

“Are you fucking kidding me? Fives?” he said.

The teller said those were the only bills she had, to which he asked her if she wanted to see her family again. He collected $400 from this robbery, but tossed a five-dollar bill at the teller before leaving, saying it was her tip.

About one week and a half later, Cornish went to a bank in Aldergrove, Alta. where he showed a gun and demanded large bills. He said he didn’t want to hurt anyone and asked if there were any kids in the branch. He got away with about $1,700.

The final robbery took place in Dawson Creek on Jan. 28, 2015 court heard. Cornish approached a teller, put his gun on the counter and reached over the counter.

“I’m sorry, I know this sucks,” he told the employee. 

He made off with more than $4,000 from that robbery. Surveillance footage of Cornish had been spread by media across Western Canada at this point. Police were able to spot his truck on surveillance footage in the Dawson Creek area and were following up on two tips they received about Cornish’s identity.

On Jan. 30 he was arrested at a hotel in Grande Prairie, Alta. Court heard police found more than $1,000 cash in his room and found a black imitation handgun in his truck. They searched Cornish’s cell phone, which had pictures of large amounts of cash next to the fake gun and alcohol.

Several of the impacted bank tellers filed victim impact statements to be read in court.

“It has had a traumatizing effect on some of the victims,” Goulet said.

Melville said the least amount of incarceration time is best for his client, a first-time offender and a once successful electrician. He said cocaine, alcohol and gambling addictions led to Cornish losing his full-time job in Alberta, effectively sparking his downfall.

Cornish spoke to Bracken, before breaking down in tears today.

“I’m in prison because of the choices I made two years ago,” Cornish said through tears.

He became too emotional to continue, so Melville read his letter on his client’s behalf.

“Instead of doing the right thing… I kept drinking,” Melville said. “Today I can’t imagine scaring or stealing from people.”

– This story was updated at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 to add sentencing decision and correct a typo. Thank you to Marvin Beatty for pointing out the error.


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