December 3rd, 2020

Man sentenced to two years in prison for robbery

By Shurtz, Delon on October 30, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

A 30-year-old Lethbridge man who robbed a convenience store so he would be thrown in jail, got what he wished for.

Just after midnight on Sept. 28, Jonathan Manitowabie, who suffers from mental health issues, walked into a 7-Eleven on the northside and asked the clerk what would happen if he stole some lottery tickets.

“I’m going to rob you,” he told the clerk. “Give me all your tickets.”

The clerk and a couple of friends who were with him, thought Manitowabie was joking, until he threatened them with an empty glass bottle he was carrying and used it to smash a plexiglass countertop, under which the lottering tickets were stored. He grabbed about 30 tickets and fled, but said he would return to rob them again and instructed them to tell the police his name.

Manitowabie left before police arrived, but they found him shortly afterward, and during his arrest he confessed his crime.

“I know, I’m the one who robbed 7-Eleven,” he told them.

Manitowabie pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court to one count of robbery, and was sentenced to two years in a federal penitentiary.

Crown Prosecutor Bruce Ainscough told court Manitowabie was taken to the police station where he admitted to robbing the store and said he had even considered stabbing someone so he could return to jail.

Lethbridge lawyer Tracy Hembroff explained her client – who comes from a dysfunctional family rife with substance abuse, addictions and violence – feels safer in custody when pressures in the world become too great for him to handle.

Hembroff jointly recommended the two-year sentence for her client so he can take advantage of the opportunities for counselling and education. She added Manitowabie has had numerous assessments over the years, and simply does not have the mental capacity to deal with difficulties in his life.

“My heart aches for this guy,” Hembroff said.

Ainscough acknowledged the unusual circumstances of the offence, and noted most robberies are committed for personal gain. Manitowabie, however, knew he couldn’t benefit from stealing the lottery ticket – even if one of them was a winner – so had nothing to gain financially.

“He clearly knew what he was doing.”

In addition to his prison sentence, Manitowabie must submit a sample of his DNA for the National DNA Databank, and he is prohibited from possessing weapons for the rest of his life.

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