By Shurtz, Delon on September 11, 2020.
Jesse Wayne Collins made it easy for police to arrest him after he robbed a Lethbridge gas station and convenience store earlier this year.
Collins walked into the store on 6 Avenue South about 10 a.m. March 28, indicated he had a gun, and made the clerk hand over $25 from the cash register. Then he walked behind the store and sat on the curb.
That’s where police found him, explained Crown Prosecutor Bruce Ainscough during a sentencing hearing Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court, where Collins pleaded guilty to a single count of robbery with a firearm.
“Because a firearm had been alleged, they actually approached him with lethal firearms drawn,” Ainscough said.
He added, however, Collins was co-operative and did not run away or resist, and he was quickly handcuffed and arrested.
During his interview with police, Collins, 35, confessed and admitted he committed the robbery because he wanted to be caught so he could try and change his tragic life.
Ainscough said Collins had been physically and sexually abused by his stepfather while living in Sudbury, Ont., many years ago, and he ran away when he was only 15 years old.
“He began hanging around the Hells Angels,” Ainscough said. “He began selling drugs for them, then that led to using drugs.”
Collins confessed to a robbery conviction in Sudbury, and told police he had struggled as an adult. He would start to get his life together, then lose a job or suffer some disappointment that would lead to depression and more drug use.
He eventually moved to Grande Prairie to work on the rigs, and had been drug-free for several years. Then a relationship ended and he “bottomed out,” became depressed, and turned to drugs again.
“He actually indicated that the reason he (robbed the store), was because he wanted to be arrested so he could get off drugs and get his life back together. He apologized for having scared the clerk, and indicated that wasn’t his intention at all, it was simply to go back to jail as he saw that as his only way of getting out of this cycle of drug addiction.”
Collins also asked to remain in custody after his arrest rather than be released on bail, for fear he would continue using drugs and commit a robbery or other crime to get arrested.
“He was afraid he might end up hurting someone if that were to happen,” Ainscough said.
He pointed out Collins didn’t have a gun but kept his hand under his jacket and pointed at the clerk with his finger, to give the impression he had a firearm.
Lethbridge lawyer Claudia Connolly said Collins, who also apologized in court, has struggled for most of his life but wants to take responsibility for his actions.
Collins was sentenced to two and a half years in a federal prison, but with credit for time already spent in custody since his arrest, he has 22 months left to serve.
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