June 16th, 2024

Accused in robbery case awaits sentencing

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 11, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta man who attempted to rob a Lethbridge convenience store last year, must wait another three weeks to find out whether he will serve a relatively short jail sentence or a longer one.
Hunter Alexander Frank, who is charged with attempted robbery and breach of curfew, could face between 12 and 18 months in jail, plus a period of probation, if the Crown has convinced the judge that amount of time is warranted. Defence, however, believes a sentence of five to six months with probation is appropriate given Frank’s young age and particular circumstances, including the lack of an adult criminal record.
During a sentencing hearing Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court, Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz told Judge Jerry LeGrandeur that even though the starting point for robbery offences are around three years in jail, case law indicates the length of sentences for such offences have been as low as 90 days intermittently.
“So the range really is all over the place, and it really comes down to what is proportionate for this individual, for this accused in these circumstances,” Shurtz said.
Shurtz said his 19-year-old client was only 13 years old when he was involved in an accident that caused some brain damage. He has a low IQ and may also have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder based on his mother’s ongoing addiction to alcohol. Shurtz noted that even though Frank is 19 years old, he functions as if he is much younger.
Frank, who was already drinking alcohol, began using cocaine and crack cocaine when he was only 12 years old, and by the time he was 16 he was using methamphetamine and fentanyl.
“He was really born into it, raised with it, and that has just been his life, so it’s not surprising we have found him where he’s at now.”
Shurtz said Frank, who has been been living on the streets ever since his father died three years ago from an alcohol-related health condition, co-operated with police after he was arrested, and he is remorseful for his actions.
At about 11 p.m. Dec. 2 of last year Frank, while wearing a bandana over his face, entered a northside convenience store and asked for cigarettes. As the 64-year-old female clerk complied, Frank pulled out a knife and walked around the counter toward the clerk.
The clerk screamed for help and pressed a panic button, which set off an alarm. Frank fled but was later identified, and following a police investigation he was arrested at the homeless shelter.
Crown prosecutor Adam Zelmer acknowledged Frank’s difficulties and challenges in his life, and agreed that proportionality is important in determining a fit sentence.
“Whatever sentence this court crafts should be proportional to the gravity of the offence and this individual offender in this individual circumstance,” Zelmer said.
Zelmer pointed out that prior appellant law and precedence indicates robbery, including attempted armed robbery of which Frank is accused, are serious crimes and require relatively higher starting points for custodial sentences, typically three years. From there a judge may decrease or increase the sentence based on mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
“A period of jail is certainly appropriate in this situation, for this offender,” Zelmer said, adding the sentence should then be followed by probation aimed at rehabilitation.
Zelmer suggested that even though Frank’s personal circumstances allow for a sentence below the starting point, there are still aggravating factors that warrant a significant period of custody.
“Mr. Frank was on release for another alleged robbery at the time of the commission of the offence,” he pointed out.
After hearing lengthy sentencing submissions from the Crown and defence, Judge LeGrandeur said he needs time to consider all the aspects of the case, and adjourned his decision until April 1.

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